Women During the Great Depression

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The great depression was a very hard time for women in Australia. Without work and a steady income many people lost their houses and were forced to live in makeshift dwellings with poo heating and sanitation. During this period of time, work around the house was still considered an important role for women. Even if the women had been working all day to bring home some money, she still had to come home and cook, clean and keeps the home in order for her unemployed husband and children. Women primarily worked in service industries, and these jobs tended to continue during the 1930’s. Clerical workers, teachers, nurses, telephone operators, and domestics largely found work. In many instances, employers lowered pay scales for women workers, or even, in the case of teachers, failed to pay their workers on time. But women’s wages remained a necessary component in family survival. In many great depression families, women were the only breadwinners. “People were forced into all sorts of tricks and expediencies to survive, all sorts of shabby and humiliating compromises. In thousands and thousands of homes fathers deserted the family and went on the track (became itinerant workers), or perhaps took to drink. Grown sons sat in the kitchen day after day, playing cards, studying the horses (betting on horse racing) and trying to scrounge enough for a three penny bet, or engaged in petty crime, mothers cohabited with make boarders who were in work and who might support the family, daughters attempted some amateur prostitution and children were in trouble with the police” recalled a survivor of the Great depression. For women to be unemployed, it had a huge emotional effect on them as they were highly humiliated. Most women had to resort to financial aid and would be found in large dole queues, soup kitchen etc. Many women had to live in public parks and fields because they had lost their homes. Men went looking for work they rarely ever came back home and had to go to a...
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