To start with, the working class was very dominant by the males. Traditionally, the men went out to work, while the women stayed at home and looked after the rest of the family. The “traditional” women jobs included cooking and cleaning the house etc. When women came into factories to work, men felt like women were “Breaking the tradition.”
Because men were so used to having other men around them during working hours, the whole atmosphere in the work place was changed when women were working. They felt like they had to act differently in front of women, and they didn’t like the change. This, of course, sparked the loathing of women at work, and often led to forms of bullying. “Over and over again the foreman gave me the wrong or incomplete directions…” That statement is a classic example of men trying to drive women away from work.
Another reason why men opposed women was over the workmanship. Men were actually concerned over the quality of the products that they were producing. Women did not have any experience in the factory, and the men were worried over what quality of products that were being sent to the front line. Also, women came in with little or no training. This led men to believe that they weren’t capable to work under extreme conditions, or to work at all. They wanted women out of work so that they could have the knowledge that they had created a good set of products. Also, to see women come in with little training battered the pride of some male workers. They had spent years training to become what they were, and they were proud of their workmanship. They felt insulted that women had managed to get the job so easily.
Another reason that was perhaps the most common reason was because men felt as though their job places were being threatened. If women could perform various tasks more efficiently than men, the owner may decide that women were better workers. “Women can satisfactorily handle much heavier pieces of metal than had been previously thought.” This would lead men to lose their jobs. So, in order to keep their jobs secure, they strived to drive women away.
Men were also looking out to their fellow workers who had gone off to war. They believed that women were “stealing” job places off men who were in the army. If women took their places, what job prospects would their friends and family return to? Also, the mood in the front line was that they should be able to return to their normal day jobs once the war was over. They did not expect for them to have been taken by women, who were seen as house wives.
Factory jobs were the main jobs that women replaced men doing. These jobs usually required hard labour, typically performed by males. According to Source H, “Women can satisfactorily handle much heavier pieces of metal than had been previously dreamt of.” Women weren’t only replacing men in factory life (though source I states that “women preferred factory life”). Other jobs were now female dominated such as conductors on buses and trams. Women now even tackled the more dangerous jobs such as Air-raid conductors and Fire officers. These jobs men almost had to dominate in order to appear superior and to keep women to housekeeping.
This next point continues on from the “male dominance” theme. Men believed that if women could prove themselves in the workplace, they would get equality with men in society in general. If it was proven that women could handle themselves in the most male dominant places in the country, they could look after themselves in every other male dominant aspect elsewhere. Men were discomforted by this scenario, and strived to keep it male dominant through rather cowardly acts. “My drawer was nailed up by the men…”
Men were also worried over their pay. Men were traditionally paid more than women, so when women came to work in factories, a pay rise for women could be up to half that of the salary for men. If the women could do a satisfactory job for half the pay, the owner may cut the pay rates of men, or sack them and find more women to fill their places. This meant that men would only allow women to work in peace in their workplaces, if they have a full mans wage. This would give them a little bit more job security. “Two shop stewards informed me on the first day that they had no objection to my working there provided I received the full men’s pay rate.”
In the end, it is a very sexist argument. Men believed that women shouldn’t be doing a mans job. They believed that it was more acceptable for women to act as a house wife. This view was shared even by the factory owners themselves. “When the boys come back we are not going to keep you any longer girls.”
So, in conclusion, men had many reasons why they opposed women in the workplace. The main ones were for job security and to keep society male dominant, like it was traditionally. They did not believe in equality as we do today, and this is visibly expressed in Source G. Men were afraid that they would lose their jobs if women proved themselves, and this in turn, would lead to a more female society elsewhere.
Men felt as though they had to work incredibly hard to earn their places in the working society, and they did not like the intrusion of women who had very little training and experience. Finally, if women didn’t take over their jobs completely, men were worried about a pay cut if women were working for less. It has been stated in source A, women generally thought they were “very well off earning £5 a week.” This was a massive pay rise compared to the “ï¿½2 a month” that women were previously earning.