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The normalization of married women’s employment was one of the major social changes taking place in western societies in the second half of the twentieth century.Focusing on Britain, this article explores the role played by the emerging discipline of sociology in fostering this change between 19.
So, any woman who took a job was somehow taking it from a man, who needed it to support his family. A volunteer force called the Australian Women’s Land Army sent women out from the cities to work on farms: ploughing, harvesting, milking cows.
With so many men away at war, this argument could no longer stand. They were essential in keeping up the food supply of Australia.
Social science, as this article seeks to demonstrate, had a major hand in framing the public meanings of the shifting female life-course, and particularly in making sense of the phenomenon of married women’s work.
Researchers such as Viola Klein, Pearl Jephcott, Judith Hubback, Ferdynand Zweig, Nancy Seear and Hannah Gavron produced a body of sociological writings on this subject in the 1950s and 1960s that had purchase beyond the confines of professional social science.
But whilst sociological research into women had a cultural throw which reached far beyond professional social science, its authors could not always control the meanings it acquired in the hands of others.
Critical Thinking Skills By Stella Cottrell - Research Papers On Womens Roles During World War Two
It could, for instance, be deployed by professional women’s bodies to advance demands for flexible working, or by civil servants to legitimize inaction on day care provision for the children of working mothers.Many nurses were stationed in Singapore, which was a base for the Allied forces in the Pacific.As the Japanese closed in on Singapore in early 1942, 65 Nurses were evacuated aboad the ship .They helped to entrench new understandings of married women’s employment as a fundamental feature of advanced industrial societies, and one that solved the dilemmas of ‘modern’ woman across social classes.Central to their vision was the ‘dual role’ in which women, having worked before becoming mothers, re-entered the workforce, often on a part-time basis, once their children were of school age or older.Only one – Vivian Bullwinkel – survived, despite being wounded, by pretending to be dead.In another incident, nurses Vera Torney and Margaret Anderson won bravery awards for shielding patients with their own bodies when their ship came under enemy fire.It argues that a group of social researchers active in this period helped to reshape popular understandings of married women’s work, which they presented as a permanent feature of ‘modern’ societies rooted in irreversible demographic and socio-economic trends.By framing paid work as an activity which met women’s new psychic needs and material aspirations across social classes, this sociological narrative dampened much of the moral fervour which accompanied popular debates about working wives and mothers.Perhaps most striking of all, and integrally linked to these wider trends, was the growth in the proportion of married women in paid work.Between the wars, only 10 per cent of wives were formally employed outside the home; this had more than doubled by 1951, rose to 35 per cent in 1961 and stood at 49 per cent a decade later.