The War in Europe came to an end on the 8th of May 1945, after a prolonged 6 years. For most people, all they wanted to do was get back to normal life but for many people particularly women, peace demonstrated to be a challenge. During the war women had been involved in many things concerning the war effort, such as taking over men’s jobs while they went away to fight in the war as well as running the household on their own which reinforced how independent women were at that time and thereafter.
But as the war came to an end, things had changed and women who had feared the loss of independence were proven right. Women had lost their status and all women war time jobs were lost so that men could regain their jobs. People wanted to return to the concept of defining “men’s jobs” and “women’s jobs. ” A lot of pressure was put on women to return to the home and be re-domesticated. The chances of getting a job now were very slim and the government insisted that men should have the priority of getting a job more than women, which therefore would decrease the number of unemployed men.
Another thing that put pressure on women being re-domesticated was due to funded research into childcare which was undertaken by a man called Boulby who concluded that children needed their mothers otherwise the child would be emotionally and educationally damaged until they were 5 years old. This may be seen as emotional blackmail, and people seemed to believe this due to the fact that scientific experiments were performed to prove Boulby’s theories. Also as women were at home all day, they didn’t need labour saving devices i. e. washing machines, Hoovers.
Which part of women’s lives in particular had improved by the end of 1950’s? Although there were many attempts to limit women’s ideas concerning their rights and roles in society after the war, it could not be stopped. Just at the end of the 1950’s, women were coming through the education system and this did not have an effect until the 1960’s. Cambridge University allowed women to receive full degrees for the first time in 1947. In 1944, Schools included girls, who gained free secondary education due to the Butler Education Act, which suggested that girls would no longer be prevented from gaining the education needed for a career.
They no more had to be forced into lowly paid, unskilled jobs at an early age, which they then have to give up when they got married. However the number of places in schools were limited and there were fewer girls than boys so therefore you had to be much cleverer as a girl. Also as grammar schools were middle class, you had to pay for things; the girl’s uniforms were more expensive than the boy’s uniforms and due to the whole expense some girls did not go to grammar schools.
Family allowances were paid to help tackle the problem of poverty and this was paid directly to the woman, which gave women an independent source of income and reduced their dependence on men. The number of married women doing part time work rose after the war. However, this reinforced how women were only fit for part time work, reflecting their status at that time and that they were not taken seriously by society. Part time workers could be paid less and could be dismissed more easily and there were very low conditions and rights.