Changing Role of Women

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Since the end of world war two, in 1945, Australian society has witnessed many dramatic changes in the rights and freedoms of women. Women, who had been encouraged to take on men’s jobs during the war were expected to vacate these positions and return to their traditional vocation in “home making”. Throughout the 1950’s and early 1960’s women were expected to either stay at home or work in underpaid “women’s jobs”. Women’s wages were significantly less in comparison to the wages awarded to men who performed the same task. The Commonwealth Arbitration Court ruled in 1949, that a women’s basic wage should be set at 75% of the male rate. This was the practice throughout the 1950’s when there was a large growth in the textiles, clothing, footwear and food processing industries depending on the cheap labor that women provided. The view that a woman’s place was in the home was reflected in and shaped by the Australian education system. The emphasis of the limited schooling available to girls was in the home sciences .i.e. cooking and sewing. The lack of educational opportunities for women only reinforced sex role stereotyping and gave women little chance to achieve their potential. The introduction of the oral contraceptive pill in 1961 gave women the chance to achieve their potential. It gave them the freedom to choose when and if to bear a child. It provided women with the opportunity to concentrate on furthering their working careers, where available, thus leaving the domestic housewife image behind. It provided women with power over their bodies for the first time; they were in control of their sexual relationships. Thus, by the end of the 1960’s, women were actively seeking greater rights and freedoms in society and in the workplace. Demonstrations and protests were a feature of this movement, known as the woman’s liberationist movement (today referred to as feminism). The female liberationists aimed to overturn the notions of female inferiority and male...
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