It is tempting to dismiss the 1950s as a rather dull decade in women’s history in which English women dutifully returned to rebuilding homes and families after the disruptions of the Second World War. The relief with which the population returned to the traditional model of family life with a stay at home (where financially possible) wife and mother and breadwinning father must have been enormous. For many families of course, this ideal model was out of reach after the casualties of war. Despite increased employment opportunities for women during the 1940s it should not be forgotten that advances in labour saving domestic appliances were in their infancy and that looking after a house and family still required a great deal of time and energy. The safety net of the new welfare state in terms of pensions, allowances, unemployment pay and the National Health Service provided a secure future for those returning from active service. Free secondary education following the 1944 Education Act offered the teenagers of the 1950s longer time in school and better future employment prospects, although university education was still the prerogative of a very few school leavers.


Gender Role Welfare State Gender Identity School Leaver Domestic Appliance 
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Copyright information

© Stephanie Spencer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie Spencer
    • 1
  1. 1.University College WinchesterUK

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