3b: The changing role and status of women

Inter-war Period

  • 1918 Representation of the People Act - enfranchised women over 30 BUT only 'educated' and 'respected' (43% of electorate). 1928 - equal with men at 21
  • WW1 gains in workplace in auxiliaries and as drivers
  • Womens work after war was cooks, maids and cleaners. Clerical work grew but was poorly paid. They could attend university. After WW1 only 5.7million females in work and were paid less than men.
  • Suffrage campaign had been middle classes so idea of middle class women voting was looked down upon by some women
  • Sex Disqualification Removal Act (1919) - gave women jobs in professions (only 2 women in engineering)
  • Teaching was common until marriage
  • 85% of female workforce were single
  • Political prejudice (5 female MPs)
  • Petty rules in House of Commons like not being allowed to use toilet or dining room
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Women's lives in WW2

  • Total war = jobs for women
  • Women's Land Army - 80,000 members
  • Muntions factories required womens
  • Women's Voluntary Service - supported civil defence roles
  • Non-combat roles overseas including cooks, drivers and clerks
  • Intelligence work
  • Paid better, gained new skills and confidence
  • Reached levels of importance and post-war relocation meant new experiences. A sense of participation
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Political and economic advancements

  • Government hoped women would go back home after war
  • Fields exclusive to women included nursing, teaching and waitressing
  • Many industries had marriage bar(teaching ended this in 1944, Civil Service in 1946 and Bank of England in 1949)
  • Some women didn't see work as a part of identity and minority of women actually wanted to build careers
  • Women began work later on after having children
  • NHS, Civil Service and Education system introduced equal pay in 1958 (40% less than males)
  • Equal Pay Act 1970 - 1975 and was requirement of joining EEC - Labour pledged to this
  • The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 - fair employment practices should be observed and established tribunals in regards to discrimination and sexual harrasment
  • Belief women's primary role was as home makers
  • 2nd Wave Feminism
  • Did not progess in terms of political advancement
  • 20-30 Female MPs
  • Thatcher & Castle high profile but widespread belief women were too busy to be politicans
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Family Life and Personal Freedoms

  • 1937 - Matrimonial Causes Act allowed divorce for unfaithfulness or desertation
  • Birth control - 1921 Dr Marie Stopes. First BC Clinic in London
  • 1927- Labour funding for these and by 1930 BC was acceptable for previous mothers
  • 1930 - Doctors can give BC advice. WC women did not benefit due to not being covered by health insurance
  • Flapper girls - jazz, socialisation, short hair and skirts, smoking 'unlady-like'
  • Depression - women skipped meals so families could eat --> decline in health
  • Labour saving devices presented for women with advertisements
  • 2nd wave feminism concerned with work, birth control etc - seen as extremist
  • 1961 Contraceptive Pill - married women only. Sexual freedom (having kids older and later) - 25% had had first child by 25 fallen from 47%
  • Shelia Rowbothan (Black Dwarf writer) organised National Women's Conference at Ruskin College in Feb 1970
  • Marriage became less partiarchal
  • 1970 - protestests at Miss World Beauty Contest (opression)
  • Spare Rib linked feminism to socialism
  • Chiswick Women's Aid - Erin Pizzey - 60 **** crisis centres in UK
  • James White sponsored the Abortion Act. 1979 people claimed people used Abortion for contraception
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