When Women Couldn’t Get Credit Cards: 10 Mind-Blowing Money Milestones

When it comes to women and money, we've come a long way, baby.

And did you know that today marks an important date in that thorny history?

Fifty years ago—on June 10,1963—President John F. Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, the law which first got around to making it illegal to discriminate against women based on pay.

While we haven't quite reached parity yet (today a working woman still makes 77 cents on the dollar compared to a man), the law was a landmark achievement for women. And it's not the only shockingly recent development.

RELATED: A Guy Confides: I Make More Than My Female Coworker

Imagine that being in debt might not have been possible for your mom, because she couldn't get a credit card in her name. However, she could legally lose her job if she were pregnant with you. And, no matter your gender, 401(k)s just plain didn't exist.

Fifty years ago it was a different financial landscape, to be sure. This slide show marks some key milestones along the path to women’s financial independence. Where do you think we'll be another 50 years from today?

View Slide Show

  • Gene

    And now she gets the house, the kids and 3/4 of his paycheck and assets and keeps of hers, and still whines that she wants to be treated equally

    • ana

      Bitter much?

      • Gene

        Actually no, and not a very original comment, but so typically feminine. Just realisitc

        • Loe

          I bet you’re a nice guy with a fedora.

    • Onwidit

      Don’t get married. Simple.

    • Shannon Lee Gilstad

      I’ll tell you what, Gene: how about we trade and YOU get to carry a child inside you for 9 months a pop.

      • Gene

        Yawn, it’d be simpler than carrying a child AND its mother for 18+ years.

        • JenInBoston

          Oops, you showed your hand, Gene.

  • Christine Tarlecki

    I had no idea that many of the laws and rules that readily are part of my life -buying a house at 25, getting a 401K, credit cards- Loans are weren’t until the 70s! And i was born in ’76! It’s incredible. I work as a contractor in communications & PR, so I get paid better than most men I know, however, my jobs are always project-based. One day soon it will be 100 pennies on the dollar!! Ladies- keep working hard!

  • Gene

    I was listening to NPR today about this very issue and, according to them, the stats were mined from Census data, which only reports total income, not how many hours each person worked, how much over time they put in.

    Every job I’ve worked women made the same base pay as men. I, along with many other men, made more than most of our female co-workers because we put in more overtime, overtime they turned down. Some women made more than I did because they worked more hours.

    The big difference is that I realize and accept that if I have children I’ll have less disposable income for me, that if I turn down overtime because my child has a concert (or ballgame or is sick, or whatever) I’ll give up the extra money and, maybe, it will impact my promotional opportunities. And it’s not my employers nor my governments responsibility to compensate me for my choices. My children aren’t a bargaining chip nor will I put a comparitive value on them.

    I’m tired of being bashed, and it assumed that because I had the misfortune of being born male that life is rosey and I have no adversity or concerns. Of being used as “THE STANDARD” of what I don’t have and what I feel I’m entitled to.

    I’d have much rather been home to see my kids off to school, to welcome them home at the end of the day. Instead of having to be at work, away from my family, when my kids took their first step, said their first word and built the memories they’ll carry with them for a lifetime.

    And, YES, I do know what it’s like, as I was a single working parent for many years, working and raising my kids. Giving up overtime for their school events and staying home when they were sick. Coming home from work and having to cook and clean and do laundry and take kids to the doctors and dentist and help with homework. I still missed too much of their lives.

    • JenInBoston

      You say you assume you’re being bashed because you’re male? No, it’s because you show up and the first thing out of your mouth is a bunch of unhelpful, un-insightful, rude crap. Just scroll up on this page and see what you said first. After you run your mouth, you cry foul that everyone’s on your arse because you’re a man. Please. It’s not because you’re a man. It’s because you act like a jerk.

  • LOVED THIS. I didn’t realize it was so recent women couldn’t have credit cards, and it never crossed my mind that job postings would specify women only. Its so easy to take these things for granted. Thank you, handsdown best slideshow you guys have done!

  • Cactus_Wren

    This should be required reading for anyone who ever begins a statement with “I’m not a feminist BUT”. “I’m not a feminist … but I do like being able to open a bank account”. “I’m not a feminist … but that whole owning-property thing is sort of handy.” “I’m not a feminist … but having a credit card really is convenient.” “I’m not a feminist … but I do enjoy not being restricted in what jobs I can apply for.” (Guess what? You ARE a feminist.)

  • Anne Cole Fairfield

    I remember as a 13-year-old sitting at Ellie Smeal’s kitchen table, showing her my Mom’s employee handbook from work, totally incensed while I flipped through the book showing her the different pay scales but identical job descriptions for men and women!

  • dorism57

    i was born in 57 and wasn’t till I started work after graduation, in the 70s did I never paid it much attention. I got my first credit care when I was 25 in 1979! I never realize that i couldn’t if I wanted to.