American Women Since 1945 by Rochelle Gatlin

By Rochelle Gatlin

Publication by means of Gatlin, Rochelle

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In the early 1970s, women's major fields of study in college showed not only a continuation of WOMEN AND WORK: 1945-1970 35 the 1950s pattern, but also little change between 1966 and 1972. Choosing acceptable female professions may have been not only a response to discrimination in male-dominated fields, but also a compromise between domesticity and desire for occupational achievement. Teaching remained a favourite for women because it did not involve extensive travel or excessively long hours.

9. Between 1950 and 1976, the clerical sector as a whole became more predominantly female. The greatest shift was among bank tellers, an occupation which declined in skill and prestige, paving the way for cheaper female labour and continued male 'flight'. Secretaries/typists remained the category with the largest percentage of women. Of all clerical occupations, the secretary is the most analogous to the 'wife'. It is the elite position within the clerical ranks, but has low occupational mobility.

2. Women and Work: 1945-1970 Increasing numbers of women entered the labour force after 1945. Paid employment transformed their lives but rarely altered their thinking about sex roles. Women who worked outside the home still saw themselves primarily as wives, mothers and housekeepers. Family responsibilities limited women's employment opportunities, while sex discrimination in hiring, promotion and earnings was justified in terms of women's supportive and subordinate position in the family. At the same time, the family and women's domestic labour in the home were also changing.

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