Married Women in Post-War Canada

Between 1945 and 1960 there was a change in the number of married women entering the work force. They were being pushed by patriotism, job opportunities and ambition. When the male soldiers returned home, the Canadian government assumed that women would want to go back to their home and celebrate peace but they were wrong. Women were entering the workforce in rising numbers. These numbers showed how committed women are to their families. They commonly devoted their time and energy at home until their youngest child was able to attend school. Once they were off the women would return to work.

After the war women took jobs in the expanding tertiary sector of the economy. Married women worked as clerical staff, in sales and the service industries. Their single sisters were finding work in factories, as nurses and teachers. After 1961, many of the married women became part-time workers, where they faced low wages and a hard time finding work.

Without women in the family working incomes were on either end of the spectrum. You were either really rich or really poor. When the women of the house worked, it was a happy median. Working wives allowed their families to enjoy cars , better clothing and home appliances. Although post-war society allowed new economic opportunities for women, it did not ensure they would be part of the “real middle class ,“ which included higher education, better heath care services and leisure activities. The fact that some women chose to merge earning wages with marriage and being a mother goes to show how insistent they were to have the same right to work as men. They forged a path for other women and especially their children.

– Danielle Milley


1 Response to Married Women in Post-War Canada

  1. Ho Him Kwong says:

    I am a Chinese Canadian.My mother was born in Canada in the 1920’s. As a teenager, she returned to China to complete her schooling. During WWII, my mother married a Chinese and lost her right to re-enter Canada. She was able to re-enter with my father & 2 children in 1950-51. Are you aware of any change of legislation that granted her the right to re-enter or was it the dogged determination of my resident grand-parents and their sponsorship, with the help of their local church, that gained my family the ability to re-enter? Was this situation the same for women of European descent?

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