Basically women were generally discriminated against on the grounds of gender. Religious traditions and cultural practices have acted as the stumbling blocks, indirectly in the background though, denying women's entry and participation in the workforce. Women ultimately were kept from working and seeing women in the workforce had been a distant dream until they felt the necessity to fight back to gain their status quo for equal participation in the society.
The primary factor for women having lesser access to the workforce was purely their overdependence on men for fulfilling their entire financial needs. The higher education which could have helped them to realize their goals was not within their reach and laws were much stricter to rebuke their claim. Pity enough though, women were secluded from entering the prestigious educational universities, and their careers in law and medicine were even debated in many countries. In some cases the claims of women to roles in professional studies was unnecessarily delayed.
Low pay, poor working status, slashed compensation, heavy labor, and low skilled, short-term jobs was typical of the women working class until the 1950's. After lots of struggles, legal recourses, opposition and acrimonious debates in the legal and governing bodies, were women allowed to move closer to their male counterparts with regard to higher education. This move increasingly saw women move to the corridors of the office, which opened the gates of easy labor and compensation, at par with their performance, and their work turning to long term careers.
Restrictions although, continued to trouble them in the form of wage gaps and unequal access to capital, which was seen across both the industrialized as well as the developing nations. While the definition of "workforce" is generally attributed to paid occupations, even the expression "work" constituting all that fall in to its ambit, has made women profess that they occupy two-thirds of all that is globally dubbed as work (ie), caring of children, caring of elders, and family upbringing, all remaining uncompensated. In spite of all the scuffles involving women's role in the workforce an US Census history of 1870's shows that women were indeed recognized for their performances in probably all the fields of all high profile and other unexpected places of existence, a consoling piece of information though the part of the story was different in the developed countries.
Women are advancing in their Journey to equal rights, and having touched all spheres of work unquestionably are on the right track, and instances to stop women in the workforce surprisingly besiege them now and then even in this progressive 21st century. Time is not too far when women in the workforce will lead the way on a global stage definitely with their untiring efforts.