Women Workers in the Second World War

Production and Patriarchy in Conflict

By Penny Summerfield

© 2013 – Routledge

232 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415752640
pub: 2014-04-10
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415622660
pub: 2012-10-10
US Dollars$140.00

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About the Book

The Second World War is often seen as a period of emancipation, because of the influx of women into paid work, and because the state took steps to relieve women of domestic work.

This study challenges such a picture. The state approached the removal of women from the domestic sphere with extreme caution, in spite of the desperate need for women’s labour in war work. Women’s own preferences were frequently neglected or distorted in the search for a compromise between production and patriarchy. However, the enduring practices of paying women less and treating them as an inferior category of workers led to growth in the numbers and proportions of women employed after the war in many areas of work.

Penny Summerfield concludes that the war accelerated the segregation of women in 'inferior' sectors of work, and inflated the expectation that working women would bear the double burden without a redistribution of responsibility for the domestic sphere between men, women and the state.

First published in 1984, this is an important book for students of history, sociology and women’s studies at all levels.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Pre-War 3. Mobilisation 4. Child Care 5. Shopping 6. Working Hours 7. Dilution 8. Conclusion. Appendices

About the Series

Routledge Library Editions: Women's History

Reissuing seminal works originally published between 1928 and 1992, Routledge Library Editions: Women's History offers a selection of scholarship covering women's roles, gender battles, feminism and other issues through the ages. Topics include women in the World Wars, prostitution in Victorian times, the history of abortion, women's roles in the Stuart era and women's place in the household and in work.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century
HISTORY / Social History