To want to settle a generation gap argument: older (female) relative is saying women had to give up work when they got married?

(621 Posts)

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Winnabella Tue 11-May-21 16:11:08

Got an older female relative (aunt) who gave up work when she married my uncle (now passed away). They got married in 1964. My parents got married in 1970 and my mum carried on working. My grandmother carried on working until she was in her late 70s. But my aunt goes on about how it 'wasn't acceptable' to carry on working after getting married. She's not done too badly being a SAHM but does go on a bit about the sacrifices she made. She had a cleaner and a housekeeper to do the housework and she and my uncle had 2 children. My cousins often joke about how they had to wear their pyjamas for two weeks. My aunt came round on Sunday and she went on and on about the job she did just before she got married. It is a bit like she's been stuck in time - this was nearly 50 years ago now. Was it the case that women were frowned upon in the 1960s for working if they got married; and how come my mother and grandmother seemed to hold down jobs (my mum part time after I was born and before I started school)

OP’s posts: |
SuperMonkeys Tue 11-May-21 16:12:04

In many jobs, yes absolutely

Redwinestillfine Tue 11-May-21 16:13:16

My mil had to give up work when she got married in the mid 1970's. Apparently it was a thing.

SuperMonkeys Tue 11-May-21 16:14:15

MadelaineMaxwell Tue 11-May-21 16:14:26

She’s right. It was very much an expectation in the sixties that you gave up the majority of jobs when you got married. By the start of the seventies it was starting to change.

Lookingoutside Tue 11-May-21 16:14:29

My friend once told me that M&S didn’t employ married women. That female staff ‘had to leave’ when they got married. I always wondered whether it was true or not but could find a definitive answer.

TheKeatingFive Tue 11-May-21 16:14:31

I’m in ROI and women were effectively forced out of civil service jobs when they got married, right into the 70s/80s. So yes, I’d believe it.


DancesWithTortoises Tue 11-May-21 16:14:33

Some factories expected women to leave when they got married. The other women used to give them a send off and a silly hat.

My mum was a teacher and just took a few years out.

nimbuscloud Tue 11-May-21 16:14:51

My friends mother should have given up work when she got engaged. She never wore her engagement ring until she got married.

Annasgirl Tue 11-May-21 16:14:55

Hi OP,

my mum worked always but many, many women of her generation had to give up work after marriage. There was a law in Ireland called "the marriage bar' - google it. These women were expected to give up their jobs in the civil service upon marriage so that they would not take up a job that should go to a breadwinner (ie a man angry). They are still looking for recompense all these years later.

However, many women continued to work (teachers, cleaners, doctors_ - but not in the civil service after marriage.

Lookingoutside Tue 11-May-21 16:15:06

*couldn’t find a definitive answer.

swampytiggaa Tue 11-May-21 16:15:10

My mom married my dad in 1951. She was able to continue to work until she got pregnant 😊

My nan didn’t work after marriage but that was 1918

ItWasLikeThatWhenIGotHere Tue 11-May-21 16:16:05

I think you’re both sort of right. Many married women did work in the 1960s but many other women didn’t because it was frowned on in their specific social circles, or their employers had an explicit policy of getting rid of them or it was looked on as a sign that their husband was a failure.

user143677433 Tue 11-May-21 16:16:42

Yes absolutely it was the case. It depended on the employer, but for the majority of employers it was official and enforced company policy that once a woman married she was no longer allowed to work. This tended to be for skilled clerical jobs. More manual jobs like cleaning were still “acceptable” but only because there was more of a class divide and it tended to be the “middle class” jobs that this applied to.

It’s shocking that this isn’t known.

giletrouge Tue 11-May-21 16:16:53

It was variable according to lots of things but it's true that in some jobs once a woman was married she was expected or even in some cases required to leave, as in they simply did not employ married women who were expected to stay at home. 1964 was very very different to 1970 - by 1970 another wave of feminism had begun, in 1964 it was post-war regressive society very stifling for women - a lot of change in 6 years. I know this because I was born in '55 and became a feminist myself around 1970. Your aunt is probably completely correct for her own circumstances - nothwithstanding the fact that your gran worked - different people, different marriages, different husbands, different expectations. Both of these can easily be the case because in such a time of change not everything everywhere changes at the same pace.

TooMuchYarn Tue 11-May-21 16:17:20

My mother had to stop work when she got married, it was the law at the time. The marriage ban was not abolished in Ireland until 1973.

goldierocks Tue 11-May-21 16:17:58

My mum was made to leave her factory packing job when she got married to my dad in 1966. They didn't employ married women. It wasn't an age thing, she was only 20 at the time.

crosspelican Tue 11-May-21 16:19:25

You literally weren't allowed to stay in the civil service in Ireland when you got married. My Dad even told me that teachers were very popular marriage material as they WERE allowed to keep their jobs when they got married, so you could have two incomes.

But of course, your salary belonged to your husband, so...

Definitely also a perception that your husband wasn't doing his job if you had to work, too.

pointythings Tue 11-May-21 16:20:56

My mother continued to work after she got married, but left her job after I was born. Then once my sister had arrived, she took an evening job delivering teacher training so that she could be with us during the day but work two nights a week. It kept her sharp. She went back to daytime teaching when my sister started secondary school. This was in Holland - and there's still a massive work gap there, with far more women working part time and their husbands working full time. The pension implications are pretty awful.

Pinkpaisley Tue 11-May-21 16:21:22

My mother married in 1970 and graduated university that same year (they originally planned to wait to marry but the draft was on). When she went to university in the United States she was required to attend classes wearing dresses and white gloves. She got a degree in design that in reality is just as good as my father’s art degree, but her diploma came from the department of Home Economics. She did work until I was born, but it was in a job deemed acceptable for a woman. When she returned to work it was the 80s and she definitely faced problems with what fields would allow her entry and then once she was there being subjected to sexual harassment. She eventually worked her way up to a VP in advertising but she had to fight her way there over years and years.

TwoAndAnOnion Tue 11-May-21 16:22:09

Yes, right up until the 1970s, women were forced out of work if they were pregnant/married

MrsAvocet Tue 11-May-21 16:23:19

Depends on the job I guess. My Mum worked for the Inland Revenue and when she got married (early 50s) it was certainly the norm for women to stop working there once they were married. She always told me that he was only allowed to stay on as they were very short of people in her role at the time. (And of course there were no equal pay laws then so she was cheaper than a man!) But when she had her first baby that was it, she had to leave. No choice in the matter. I don't know whether that was national policy or just something the local manager enforced, but it was something my Mum certainly felt bitter about. When I was wavering about returning to work after my first baby she was very strong in her opinion that I should go back. She was a fantastic mother but I do think she always felt upset that she was denied other opportunities.

Skysblue Tue 11-May-21 16:23:33

In many jobs - for example, the UK Foreign Office - women were not permitted to continue in their employment after marriage.

It was extremely common, and it certainly was the ‘done thing’, for women to leave work to focus on bringing up the children.

Mushypeasandchipstogo Tue 11-May-21 16:25:17

My mother worked as a tax officer in a tax office before she got married. She was made to leave her job when she got married in 1960.

Stichintime Tue 11-May-21 16:25:23

If the woman didn't give up work when she married she was likely to if she had children. I agree it's boring and irrelevant to hear about someone's job and experiences if its 50 years old! I have a friend who worked for the same Client group as me. I continue to work in my field, and have years of experience and post graduate qualifications, she stopped working in the 90s and left the country! Its really annoying when I'm talking about something work related in she tells some story I've heard 10 times because her expereince is so out of date! It's like she's stuck in time.

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