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Can I ask a question about women's history.....a bit embarrassed that I don't understand it

(90 Posts)
susannahmoodie Sat 27-Dec-14 11:35:35

I'm reading a book at the minute set in 1920s....there are a lot of references to women having to give up work when they got married. I know this happened, a lot later than the 20s to I think but I don't really get why- what was the rationale behind the idea that you couldn't be married and work at the same time? Also was it related to social class?

Sorry for being ignorant....

LittleBearPad Sat 27-Dec-14 11:39:51

It was largely due to social class, many working class women would still have had to work due to needing the money, but many professions had a thing called the 'marriage bar' eg civil service, police etc - which meant married women were not allowed to continue in their jobs after marriage.

Artifexmumdi Sat 27-Dec-14 11:42:00

I think it was because being a wife was supposed to become your job and you couldn't do two jobs at once. But I am not sure.

LittleBearPad Sat 27-Dec-14 11:43:47

This from the Spectator is quite interesting on thinking behind it in the 40s


Middleagedmotheroftwo Sat 27-Dec-14 11:44:29

I think also people thought that
a) a womans place was at home, running her home and looking after her husband and children
b) men were concerned that people would think they couldn't provide for their wife and children if the wife went out to work.

These sort of attitudes were common until relatively recently (my lifetime)

acrabadabra Sat 27-Dec-14 11:44:59

Not sure but perhaps so you wouldn't be taking a job from a man with a family to support?

PenguinsandtheTantrumofDoom Sat 27-Dec-14 11:46:03

Yes. Keeping the home was meant to be your job. Plus you were meant to have babies ASAP, so you would Obviously give up then.

You also weren't meant to take jobs away from men who had a family to look after.

bilbodog Sat 27-Dec-14 11:59:16

Don't forget that there were no household gadgets then either and wood or coal fires so everything took a long white to cook clean wash etc. I sometimes wonder if we went back to a bit of that there would be better care for children and more jobs for men and young people ............. Risky post

LordEmsworth Sat 27-Dec-14 12:05:00

bilbodog I'm not married, should I give up my job so a young man can have it instead? Presumably my lack of male partner indicates I have failed at life, so don't deserve a roof over my head or food on my table?

Not a risky post, just a stupid one. Why do I have less need of paid employment than a man or "young person" does?

perplexedpirate Sat 27-Dec-14 12:09:26

I recently read that there is something of a myth around this and that that vast majority of married women worked outside the home in the Victorian era (read it in How to be a Victorian, so not quite the same era, but may reflect).
There's also an episode in Sex and the City when Charlotte marries Tray and gives up her amazing art gallery job. grin

susannahmoodie Sat 27-Dec-14 12:10:01

But because didn't lack of labour saving devices mean children weren't 'better looked after' because women were working hard to keep the house??

I'm sure sheryl Sandberg quotes reach in lean in where the difference in the amount of time a sahm spent with her dcs in the 60s and a wohm spent with dcs now isn't that great, because of such labour saving devices.....

susannahmoodie Sat 27-Dec-14 12:28:58

Research not reach!

FunkyBoldRibena Sat 27-Dec-14 12:32:53

I sometimes wonder if we went back to a bit of that there would be better care for children and more jobs for men and young people

There's always one. resisting the temptation to tell someone to fuck off so shortly after the alleged season of goodwill

PoinsettiaGordino Sat 27-Dec-14 12:54:46

My grandmother says that she had to give up her job because once you married your job was to look after your husband (she doesn't agree with that, it was just a fact of life when she got married) - she was a nurse so it was one of the marriage bar jobs I think

I'm not sure how making household chores more difficult would mean that children are better cared for, so that's rather a fatuous comment

noddingoff Sat 27-Dec-14 12:57:17

Well, you carry on bilbodog. Let us know how it goes. Just don't catch your fingers in the mangle.

puddymuddles Sat 27-Dec-14 13:04:03

My nan was not allowed to continue being a teacher after she got married. She did continue for a year and didn't tell them but had to give up when pregnancy began to show. She was born 1910 so this would have been 1930s. I don't know the history, just what she told me. The reason was because a womans priority was meant to be the family and children after marriage and also to free up jobs for men (high uneployment in 1930s).

tilder Sat 27-Dec-14 13:04:15

Ah yes. Am sure a stepford style lifestyle would mean kids were looked after better.

Really bilbodog. This is mn. Do you seriously expect much support on here for such a fatuous comment?

mindifidont Sat 27-Dec-14 13:06:47

I think our economy would be a bit f***ed if jobs were always given to "men and young people" rather than to the person that would do it better.

happygirl87 Sat 27-Dec-14 13:09:12

I think (disclaimer - no expert!) that in the period you mention, a young girl would have lived with parents until marriage, where her Mum would have kept house, and on leaving school the girl would get a job and bring in extra money. Then on marrying the girl would move into a new house with her husband, and would give up work to keep that house.

LineRunner Sat 27-Dec-14 13:13:00

I think the OP is asking what was the legal rationale to the marriage bar, e.g. in teaching.

YonicSleighdriver Sat 27-Dec-14 13:14:24

My gran had to give up her job. It was a real shame.

OmnipotentQueenOfTheUniverse Sat 27-Dec-14 13:16:16

My great-aunt was a doctor and she was told she had to leave her job when she got married.

OP - in the US during the Great Depression there were explicit bars to employing married women at various state levels and in various industries:

"The federal government also discriminated against married women workers. In 1932 Congress passed the Federal Economy Act, which, through explicit language, had the effect of excluding a married woman from working in civil service if her husband did as well. Twenty-six state and local governments all over the country considered laws that would bar married women from working in government jobs in the early 1930s. As a result, public school and transportation systems nationwide began to fire and refuse to hire married women. Banks, insurance companies, public utilities companies, and railways also discriminated against married women in their hiring practices.(65) Also, traditional labor unions, like those associated with the AFL, almost entirely excluded women during the early 1930s."

That is from here If you google "Great Depression women banned working" there is loads of stuff.

TInselaffe Sat 27-Dec-14 13:18:05

DAunt left her job when she got married. Then had to go back under her maiden name until her first child was born as they needed the money. Her employer pretended the wedding had never happened. This was in the 1960s. hmm I agree that it is very unlikely that there will ever be enough suitable jobs for everyone that wants to work but the answer isn't to discriminate against and subjugate 52% of the population. What a stupid idea bilbodog hmm

Custardo Sat 27-Dec-14 13:18:59

It is important to remember that many poor women did keep working hard Labour jobs in factories and mills and look after kids and do all the house chores because men got paid more and culture as lot to do with it. Also remember that poor kids worked too

Figureof80 Sat 27-Dec-14 13:19:26

That article still managed to be insulting even when it was arguing that women should be allowed to work after marriage:
"The female staff of the Civil Service will lack broad-mindedness if it is entirely composed of spinsters. "

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