Since women in the time of the Industrial Revolution in America and more specifically, in New England, even those were not married yet, did not make as much and those who were married were more focused on bearing and raising children, this specialization and “breadwinner" aspect emerged and gender roles began to take on even more distinct appearances. In fact, from the very onset of the Industrial Revolution in New England and America, women, and even their children began to move away from the cottage industry and into new roles in the family. Before the Industrial Revolution in America, New England, or elsewhere, although there was certainly a gendered division of labor, men and women both contributed equal parts to their families, agricultural, or family-operated small business tasks. The growth of paid labor during the Industrial Revolution in New England in America, especially as it became more specialized, led to gender roles becoming increasingly defined. In this way, gender roles were changed by the Industrial Revolution in America and New England, although not necessarily revolutionized.

Interestingly, although women were obviously still rearing children, an important fact to understand is that while before the Industrial Revolution, this was a vital responsibility of women. This was because large families were essential so that there would be plenty of free labor to go around—children would help their families work the land or would apprentice and/or take over the local family business or trade. “The presence of industry caused a growing separation of work from the household and the increasing specialization of skills. As this trend in families continued, children were no longer seen as primarily economic assets, but instead as dependents requiring education and nurturing" (Davis 1984: 403). This was a dramatic revolution for women and children during the Industrial Revolution in New England in America, not only in terms of how children were going to be raised, but on the American family in general.

Instead of children being born with the hope that eventually they help the economy of the family, they were now also seen as an asset apart from that and the concept of “potential" discussed above could factor in. Even more importantly, “The new wealth created by the Industrial Revolution in New England in America and the new emphasis on education, including the education of women, were among the factors that led to a sharp reduction in the average size of American families" (Gore 23). In short, the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in New England not only revolutionized the way a typical family functioned and worked together, but the very size as well. This change would also signal a change in consciousness overall as more people became educated and thus devoted more time to arts, literature, and other matters that might have been considered superfluous, particularly in families whose lives had been hitherto dominated by long hours of farm or other work.

In addition to some of the changes that took place in the role and perception of children, the roles of women were expanded and altered. Many young women found work in factories and although they were consistently paid less than males and in many cases, even children, they nonetheless were offered some sort of alternatives. As the Industrial Revolution gathered momentum in New England, “No longer was caring for the home and children the exclusive duty of women, nor earning a living and pursuing a public life the exclusive domain of men. Many wives started working outside the home, just as many husbands started sharing tasks to maintain a household" (Finneran 1994: 47). Again, this marked an important change in the social and gender structure of the household in America and New England after the rise of the Industrial Revolution.