A New Model for Marriage and Motherhood in Postwar Britain, 1945-1960 [post]

Caroline Bland
2020 unpublished
Following the end of the Second World War in 1945, married women, who had been such a crucial part of the British workforce during the war, returned to domestic roles. British government policy focused on relieving poverty and promoting motherhood: pregnant women received maternity benefits and mothers received a family allowance. Although historians such as Martin Pugh argued that women were happy to leave the workplace and enjoy the stability and relative ease of domestic life, women's own
more » ... ries illustrate the growing frustration with a lack of choice. By examining historical and sociological research, analyzing media influences on women's attitudes towards domesticity and work, and listening to women's oral histories, a different picture emerges. In the 1944 Education Act the government introduced free secondary education and a higher school leaving age, providing the first steps towards improved education for young women. From 1948 free healthcare gave married women access to contraception and allowed them to plan the timing and number of pregnancies. Married women, no longer tied to large families and increasingly better educated, were able to explore other opportunities outside the home. By 1960 a new model of marriage and motherhood emerged, with married women staying at home when their children were small but returning to the workplace once their children entered full time school. Women were no longer confined to domestic roles. v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to thank my mother Bridget Hirst and my daughter Helena Bland for inspiring me to research women's roles since the Second World War. It is through hearing my mother's stories that I began to realize and appreciate how much women today owe the women of yesterday.
doi:10.33015/dominican.edu/2020.hcs.st.03 fatcat:gsgjo5vxabhixjyruj4jqsxlxi