Lest we congratulate ourselves too soon on progress on the women's rights front, bear in mind that just a hair over 10 years ago the Veterans Administration, in screening applications for home loans based on a husband and wife's joint income, routinely inquired not only about birth control attitudes, but the how of the couple's practices as well.
And a bank in Virginia was still requiring a wife, as co-signer of a mortgage, to agree to an abortion if she became pregnant during the life of the loan.
While passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act in '74 outlawed many of these sexist approaches to the woman-as-borrower, and a much closer approach to equality today does, indeed, exist, there are still pitfalls for women. This is the warning advanced by Emily Card, Ph.D., one of the major authors of the seminal legislation in her valuable "Staying Solvent, A Comprehensive Guide to Equal Credit for Women."
Ironically, too, in the eight community property states--of which California is one--legislation that was designed to make husband and wife 50/50 economic partners actually works to the woman's disadvantage in getting credit in her own name since the Equal Credit Opportunity Act does permit lenders to ask marital status and the name of the spouse and, frequently (although illegally), they stretch that into requiring spousal co-signature.