By Stephanie Spencer (auth.)
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Additional resources for Gender, Work and Education in Britain in the 1950s
I suppose that it can be argued as having that effect, yet it can be argued per contra that the employer makes a smaller contribution in the case of women and can therefore afford to pay them more. 88 A further deputation, from the Married Women’s Association on October 17th 1944, led by Dr Edith Summerskill, MP, included nine members described as ‘ordinary housewives’. 89 They focused on the importance of paying family allowances to the mother, increasing the suggested maternity beneﬁt and including maintenance for deserted wives and children as the state’s responsibility.
71 According to his wife Janet, her inﬂuence was considerable and so it appears that the sentiments in the Report, in addition to the formal submissions by women’s organisations, also reﬂected the individual contribution of one woman: Never on any account trim your sails to a putative prevailing wind has been my motto, and it usually succeeded in my getting everything I planned, including the margin. 73 The following extract, from one of Beveridge’s speeches given on a promotional tour of the United States, illustrates the genuine importance attached to women’s domestic role as a job of work, with all the privileges that entailed: My Scheme recognises the home.
Membership of the welfare state was couched in terms of reciprocal duty between husband and wife and between citizen and nation state. The role of married women was central to the creation of this society and was, from the ﬁrst, deﬁned as ‘other’ to that of the single woman: ‘The attitude of the housewife to gainful employment outside the home is not, and should not, be the same as that of a single woman. 42 The assumption, by Beveridge, which became embedded in national insurance legislation, was that girls would leave school, work for a short time as a stop gap, then retire on marriage in order to devote themselves to full time domesticity.