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Extra resources for Women and Working Lives: Divisions and Change
One felt like a leper. For all people knew that you were doing war work you felt inferior because of this colour. Given the variety of jobs which women did in the Aycliffe factory it is impossible to generalise about them. Equally it is difficult to generalise on the basis of our interviews about the women's reactions to their experience of working there. A few hated it: 'If I had my life over I wouldn't go back; it was something I would never do again no'. A few found it a very positive experience: 'I couldn't say I had an unhappy moment really - it was really good'.
160). It is important therefore to distinguish between the effects of the wartime experiences of women's employment on the gender division of paid labour, which were not great, and their effects on women's participation in paid work. (A third important question of interest is equal pay (Summerfield, 1989, pp. ) The war does appear to have initiated a change in women's (and especially married women's) participation rates which continued after the war. The proportion of the female labour force who were married remained at 43 per cent in 1951, the figure it had reached in 1943 (Summerfield, 1989, p.
Thus, although Americans are more likely than the British to deny that work does family life harm, they are less likely than the British to assume that work is a blessing for the woman. This does not mean that in Britain women's employment outside the home is regarded as a panacea. Both Americans and the British resoundingly reject the notion that a woman and her family will all be happier if she goes out to work. Only 17 per cent of Americans and 19 per cent of the British view work as a source of family happiness.