Chapter

The Mobilization of Women

Geoffrey G. Field

in Blood, Sweat, and Toil

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199604111
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731686 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604111.003.0005
The Mobilization of Women

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Britain was second only to the USSR in the extent to which it mobilized women in the Second World War. This chapter discusses women's recruitment into war factories, the armed forces, and agricultural work. It describes the special difficulties of shopping and childcare for war workers and their experience of factories. While the vast majority of women in war production were working class, the chapter analyses diaries, fiction, and other publications by middle-class women who went into war factories as a source of insights into class attitudes and relationships. Recent scholarship has focused on whether the war was a catalyst of change in conventional gender roles; that issue is discussed but the chapter focuses primarily on class and the ways in which war-work, whether in factories or the uniformed services, shaped women's political and social outlooks. A final section examines demobilization and women's aspirations at the war's end.

Keywords: Women and war; women and trade unions; women's auxiliaries (ATS, WAAF, WRNS); Women's Land Army; middle-class social explorers

Chapter.  30437 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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