Inquiry question: After WW1 how did women’s roles change, and how did this affect Canada and its future equality?
When WW1 began more women were in jobs. Most women were just working in desk jobs but the demand for women to work in munition factories was increasing as the war went on. As the years went on there wages increased. They had more roles in the society and as the years went o some even could vote. The war was really the first time women realized they could do so much more than they had been, so they started protesting more. After the war ended a lot of women were pushed out of their jobs and men returned to work. The women who still worked their wages decreased to 59% of the men’s wages. In conclusion, WW1 did contribute to women’s equality because although women were pushed out of jobs more were working than before. I believe women working made them feel more empowered and led to more equality over time.
During WWI women were brought into labour as new jobs were created and as men left their jobs to join the army and fight in the war. Most found familiar jobs as secretaries, clerks, typists and factory workers. For the first time, however, many women worked in heavy industry, particularly the munitions industry. Most of the women who worked during the war were unmarried. Although their wages increased during the war years, they never equaled men’s; in the munitions factories, women’s wages were 50-80% of those paid men. Despite the movement of women into a few new areas of the economy, domestic service remained the most common female occupation. This being said this was all still a big step for women equality in Canada.
The war effort increased women’s political visibility. Women’s organizations had supported the war effort by recruiting women to replace men in the labor and by collecting massive amounts of comforts for Canadian troops.
A Women’s War Conference was called by the federal government in 1918 to discuss the continuing role of women, who took the opportunity to raise a number of political issues, including suffrage. Suffrage movements had been gaining strength since WW1 started. In 1916 Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta had given women the provincial vote; Ontario and BC followed in 1917. On 24 May 1918 the Parliament of Canada bestowed the federal franchise on women, and by 1922 women had the provincial vote in all provinces except Québec.
In 1919 women were granted the right to hold political office in Parliament, and in 1921 Agnes MacPhail was the first woman to be elected as a federal member. Cutbacks and layoffs of women took place in the years immediately following the war, but by the 1920s women had re-established their wartime levels of labour involvement. Some new “female” professions, such as library work, social work and physiotherapy were emerging. Women were entering universities in large numbers and, by 1930. The Great Depression reversed this trend and in the 1930s many women were forced back into domestic service.
After WWII all soldiers were promised the could go straight back into the job they had before the war. The day nurseries were closed, many women returned to the home, often to have children, and by 1946 the rate of women’s participation in the labour force had dropped. The women that were working their earnings were significantly lower than those of men: in 1961 earnings of women employed full-time, year-round, were 59% of the earnings of men.
I found learning about womens roles very interesting, and I definitely want to keed the same topic. I may want to look more into women’s voting privileges and how WW2 affected women. This question was easy to find answers and I may need to revise it. If I wanted to look deep into this question I will definitely need to look at other sources.