Working Lives

Maria Davis 1940s to 50s (part 1)

Maria Davis started work as a sales assistant at John Lewis in 1948.

Women in the Workforce

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The Bonds Fashion Show 1950
The Bonds Fashion Show 1950

As in the First World War, millions of women entered the workforce in World War II. Once again after the war, men were expected to be the main family providers. Women were told they had no right to work if it took a job from a man who had a family to support.

But unlike the 1920s when unemployment was a serious problem, the government was soon faced by manpower shortages. By the late 1940s women were being asked to return to work, although often on a part-time basis - in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs, and still at only 49 per cent of men’s wages.

Education for girls still focused on domestic science, even though women were now faced with a dual role – wage earner and home-maker. In the 1940s and 1950s, the percentage of married women who worked doubled to 30 per cent. By the late 1950s, there would be more female factory workers than shop assistants or office workers.



 

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