13.4 The Changing Role of Women:1950-1975

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Between 1945 and 1975, there wer significant changes to the lives of most women in Britain. Opportunities, expectations, income and even the legal status of women changed, 

Work, opportunities and pay

  • In 1951, women made up 31% of the labour force, but this had increased to 38% by 1971.
  • In 1951, 36% of women worked but this increased to 52% by 1971.
  • In1951, only 26% of arried women worked but ths had ncrease to 49% by 1971. This increase was partly due to the removal of the 'marriage bar', the unwritten rule that said women should give up their job once married. 
  • Many female workers were resented by their male colleagues. Women often took lower paid jobs. Even when women did the same job as men their pay was generally lower.
  • In 1955, the Conservative government agreed to give equal pay to men and women in public sector jobs, such as teachers and civil servants. It was not until 1970 that the Equal Pay Act was passed giving equal pay in the private sector too. The act was not enforced until 1975. Although a major step forward, the Equal Pay Act did little to help women gain promotions over men.

Women in the home

At the beginning of the 20th Century, nearly 14% of women never married. After 1945, there was a major increase in the numbers of women geting married and this caused a baby boom between 1950 and 1965. 

The avalability of electricity to power appliances and gas for heating made home life more comfortable. In addition, technological developments significantly improed the lives of many women. Vacuum cleaners, washing machines and refrigerators made cleaning and shopping easier.

Improvements in the home ment that women had more time to take on part time work or leisure activities. The average number of…


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