chapter  9
Post-war Divisions of Labour
Pages 13

Social historians of war see the period following the end of the Second World War as one of return to pre-war conditions, with intense segregation of work along sex lines and a renewed emphasis on home and family in the lives of women. In the case of engineer­ ing, this is broadly true. Female employment was still highly segreg­ ated in particular trades such as electrical engineering and motor vehicles. Wartime gains like the provision of nurseries were lost as government funding was withdrawn. Unions failed to dislodge the Women’s National Schedule as the basis for female pay or to achieve parity with male pay. But pressures during these years created by labour shortage and the export and rearmament drive did start to undermine the categories of ‘women’s’ work and pay. While the EEF held out on women’s wages, individual employers faced pressure to improve wage rates and difficulties in respecting the boundaries between male and female, adult and youth work. More confident of full employment for its male members, the AEU took a less negative and defensive stance towards women as workers and union members, describing a positive role for them in the future of the industry.