Women in Australia 1920-50's

Topics: Gender role, Woman, World War II Pages: 6 (2247 words) Published: May 30, 2013
Women In History
From the 1920’s to the end of the 1950’s women had changed socially, culturally and politically of that pre WW1, women’s actions in these decades had caused a diversity and unity effect on Australian society. The 20’s brought the introduction of women in the war effort which led to a more liberated free spirited women known as the flappers. The depression in the 30’s impacted women’s lives. Women looked for work in support of their husbands while single women were refused financial aid. Yet it wasn’t until ww2 that women had a cohesive and divisive impact on Australian society. Women for the first time were looked upon to come join the workforce in absence of men who had enlisted. Females worked in male dominated jobs, yet the liberation was shortly met as most of them vacated their jobs after the war was over. The 50’s brought back the traditionalists roles for women and much of women’s roles in the war were overlooked. Traditionalists were still divided with women who had chosen to stay in the paid workforce.

The position of women in society within the 1920’s was hardly improved although there was a substantial amount of social, political and cultural change in this decade. At the turn of the decade as Australia was changing the roles of women remained inadequately traditional as WW1 had not contributed into changing them. A significant number of Australian women wanted to play active roles in the war effort, but the government of Australia refused women to serve in the armed forces. Their war effort was restricted in areas such as nursing, recruitment campaigns, raising funds and knitting clothes for the troops. During this period with the absence of many men due to the war, many thousands of women took the job opportunities and entered the paid workforce in support of the armed forces at home and abroad. Upon the soldiers return from the war many women happily vacated their jobs to return to their traditional roles. Women remained inferior in society and their role was seen primarily as that of mother and housewife. Substantial amount of women both single and married chose to still be involved in the workforce. They were found working predominately in traditional jobs such as nursing, teaching and domestic service. Women were getting paid around 55% of a males wage and if not employed in traditional women jobs where employed in exploited occupations.

The 1920’s was a decade caught between the old and the new. Changing fashions and the more liberal attitudes of younger people were a challenge to the older generation. The term flapper referred to a "new breed" of women. They took on an androgynous style. They wore short skirts and dresses which were straight and very loose. The arms were left bare and the waistline was dropped to the hips. Skirt lengths were shortened to knee-length revealing enough leg to be controversial the chests appeared to look very small and women would tape themselves to look even smaller. Their hairstyles were cut very short and were known as a bob. Women started wearing "kiss proof" lipstick in shades of red, their eyes was ringed a dark black colour, and their skin was powered to look very pale. Flappers were also known for drinking, smoking and becoming sexually active, they also started dating freely and danced all night long very provocatively. Jazz music was rising in population and the flappers brought it out even more. Not all women changed into becoming a flapper, yet the little numbers brought social change for women in this decade. Women’s social lifestyle’s in the 1920’s caused a division as well as a uniting effect on Australian society. Women who chose to go against traditional roles and take on the new liberated attitude to life caused a bitter divide in society with people who had a more traditional view towards women. While people united and enjoyed the ‘roaring twenties together’

Politically there was little real change to the role of women in...
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