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Describe the role and status of women in Britain in the late 1940's and 50's.

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1. Describe the role and status of women in Britain in the late 1940's and 50's. During the war women in Britain experienced freedom they had never had before. However, when the war came to and end and the men returned from fighting, many women were immediately made redundant without any explanation. The government encouraged them to go back to working in the home, looking after her family was seen as a woman's priority and duty. Women in Britain were used as a 'reserve army of labour' called upon in a crisis but expected to go back to their traditional roles when the crisis was over. People saw a women's place as being in the home looking after the children, they were only required for emergencies. Any part time work was viewed as 'pin money' (extra money) for spending on luxuries and the children. ...read more.


As well as the NHS, the Butler Education Act was introduced to provide more children with a better education. The school leaving age was raised to 15, and when leaving primary school all children had to take the 11+ exam, and depending on the result would be sent to one of three different schools; grammar, secondary modern, and technical. For the first time the act provided all children with a free education, and also gave girls an equal opportunity to learn. However, there were not as many girls' grammar schools as there were boys, so I infact girls were not made quite equal. Compulsory secondary education meant that pupils would no longer be forced into low paid unskilled work. Although changes made by the Welfare State were a great improvement in the lives of women, the government's insistence of women returning to the home must have felt very restrictive, and probably left a lot of women feeling trapped and unhappy. ...read more.


They finally had freedom to make their own decisions. With the 'baby boom' after the war, lots of child care books published in the 50's encouraged women that their place was in the home, and an idea that a working women was a bad mother developed. Marriage was increasing and couples were getting married at a younger age. Divorce also started becoming more common, in 1937 one marriage in 60 had ended in divorce, but by 1955 that number fell to one in fifteen. By the end of the 50's many girls were receiving grammar school education, and more then a third of university graduates were women. With advances in machinery and labour saving devices eg. The washing machine, women had more spare time and could really look to the future and start breaking free from their traditional roles in society by using their education and the other benefits given to them by the new Welfare State to start improving the lives of women. ...read more.

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