When we look at the history of women’s paid employment in Canada, we can see that society has come a long way. Previously, women’s work was in the home, in the private sphere. Her work consisted of taking care uniquely of the home and the children. Rarely, would we see women working for a wage expect for poor women; only because, their families needed the income. Mainly, the only jobs that were available for women were domestic service, a job that relates to the private sphere of the home. People believed that if a woman had paid employment, she was taking away a paycheck from a man, or she would become too manly.
During World War II, this belief changed; women now had to be an essential part of the workforce. Women were desperately needed to replace men at work while they were off fighting the war. Essentially, World War II opened the gates to female work outside the home and redefined women’s role in the paid employment industry. The Second World War redefined Canadian women’s work in the factories as well as typical male jobs. This time period allowed white women and black women to find a place in the workplace.
To begin, during the 19th and early 20th centuries Canada was industrializing; thus, there was a shift from rural farming to urban industrialism. This meant that women could no longer participate in the family earning, the family act of living off of the fruits of your labour from the farm because men were being moved to the factories were there existed a wage. Women were excluded from this type of employment because there of an ‘ideology of domesticity’ that claimed that “women were to be mothers and housewives and to exhibit piety, purity, domesticity and submissiveness.” There was a belief that if women entered the paid workforce, they would become rough, dirty and manly. By the 1930’s, women were slowly being included in the workplace, with much discrimination; but, most commonly only in the pink collar and white collar work. In blue collar work, very few women were prominent. These women working in the factories were usually young single women helping to increase the family income.
To begin, World War II redefined women’s factory work; because, women were now being hired in large numbers to do men’s jobs during the war. This is significant because not only was women’s labour valuable, but it demonstrate the large influx of middle class, unskilled, and married women in the workplace. These women were needed because of a male labour shortage. The labour Supply Investigation Committee noticed that the “complete mobilization of these reserves (female labour) would be necessary for the success of the war effort”. It is believed that approximately “600 thousand new women workers” entered employment during the war. Since there were a very limited number of white men to work in these factories, they needed female labour to fill in the gap.
To elaborate, women were needed in these war factories to produce war related materials...