Join getAbstract to access the summary!

All the Single Ladies

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

All the Single Ladies

Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation

Simon & Schuster,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

All the single ladies are making a difference – demographically, economically and politically.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


Journalist Rebecca Traister provides a thorough historical overview of the role single women played in forming the contemporary United States. She draws on extensive research and personal interviews to create a quantitative and qualitative assessment of issues unmarried women face at all income levels and across racial and geographic borders. Traister organizes chapters by distinct topics – class, economics, marriage and sex – to make information readily available. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends her examination of a rising demographic to consultants, HR professionals, and business leaders seeking valuable background on the power and challenges of unmarried women.


The Spinster

The rise of today’s single American women springs from incremental progress made by earlier generations. Colonial America enforced “coverture,” making a woman’s “legal, economic and social identity” related to that of her husband. Adult single women had no legal place. In the 19th century, single women like Susan B. Anthony and Sarah Grimké advocated women’s rights and supported the abolition of slavery. Immigrant single women such as Rose Schneiderman, Margaret Haley and Lillian Wald – and many divorced women – fought for better conditions at work, equal pay as school teachers and homes for unmarried women. Single women’s campaigns for rights led to the 14th, 15th and 18th Amendments. The 19th Amendment, which passed in 1919, finally gave women the right to vote, a victory for “First Wave” feminism. These feminists fought for social rights across race, class and economic spectrums. Many were unmarried or “unconventionally married.”

Though the women’s civil rights movement improved the lives of single women today, the 1970s’ “Second Wave” feminism was not initially rooted in a critique of marriage, but it did not adequately address the needs of unmarried...

About the Author

Award-winning journalist Rebecca Traister covers women in politics and business for New York magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Elle. She wrote Big Girls Don’t Cry, a New York Times Notable Book of 2010.

Comment on this summary

  • Avatar
  • Avatar
    M. M. 6 years ago
    This summary presented a lot of interesting oxymorons within workplace women. For example, whereas women with children were less likely to be hired for a job, single women often find themselves in poverty. Great read!