Prior to the implementation of factory production in north America, production depended largely on the work of the ‘master-apprentice’ system, wherein an ‘apprentice’ would work with and often live with a ‘master,’ learning the many skills needed to produce that which the ‘master’ was skilled in making. Such masters could be skilled at shoemaking, carpentry, tailoring, or any other number of productive jobs, and would pass on their knowledge to their apprentice. These arrangements were mutually beneficial, in this situation, since production took place within the home, women often played a vital role in the family economy by also helping produce and therefore generating revenue for the household.
With the mechanization of production however, work more and more came to be considered an entirely separate endeavour from the home. The shift to machine-dependant production resulted in a great shift away from home-centered production and into factories. As a result of factory work becoming the dominant means by which goods were made, and as men most often were the primary breadwinners during this time, work and domestic life came to be considered more and more as belonging to ‘separate spheres.’ That is, domestic life and the responsibility of caring for the family and upkeeping the home became viewed as the responsibility of women in the ‘domestic sphere’, while men were relegated to the responsibilities of generating income for the family through their participation in the ‘public sphere.’ As a result, men came to be viewed as naturally more inclined toward participation in public goings-on, while women were viewed as naturally inclined toward domesticity and child rearing
Cordea, D., “Two Approaches on the Philosophy of Separate Spheres in Mid-Victorian England: John Ruskin and John Stuart Mill.” Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, International Workshop on the Historiography of Philosophy: Representations and Cultural Constructions, 71. 2012: 115-122.