Women, work and war : industrial mobilisation and demobilisation, Coventry and Bolton, 1940-1946
The emphasis in this thesis is on women's popular attitudes towards the two processes of industrial mobilisation and demobilisation which took place between 1940 and 1946. Although the work includes a survey of the national picture of those two processes, it concentrates on case studies in two towns which exhibited different characteristics of women's employment, Coventry and Bolton. This is done in an attempt to see if the tradition of women's employment affected their attitudes towards war work. In Coventry, the best sources of women's employment were for single women. During the nineteen-thirties it was obvious that the motor industry employed increasing numbers of women, but, again, the unmarried. The economic participation rate in Coventry was slightly lower than the national average. On the other hand, the cotton industry in Bolton customarily had engaged married women as well as single women, therefore, the women's economic participation rate was about 10 per cent. higher than the national average. Local custom with regard to married women's employment appears to have affected women's ideas About their domestic responsibilities. Coventry women were more reserved and more conscious of their domestic role. However, the comparison between the two towns also brought out similarities as well as differences in women's attitudes to industrial mobilisation. During demobilisation, the similarities between Coventry and Bolton were more strongly marked. The majority of women war workers had no intention of staying on in the factory, in jobs which were still largely thought of as 'men's work'. Most women thought that their well-being was dependent on men's secure employment and high wages. They did not want to do anything to threaten it. There seems to have been little antagonism between men and women during the mobilisation and demobilisation period.