WHAT IMPACT DID THE SECOND WORLD WAR HAVE ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN?.
" The notion that the Second World War must have had a profound and lasting effect on the lives of the British Women has continued to shape interpretative attitudes of the conflict." It has been noted by some historians that the war reinforced traditional values in women, on the other hand it is argued that such an experience must have altered the lives of the women on the home front considerably. In order to investigate the extent to which the conflict affected the status of women, it is necessary to investigate changes in the following factors: the women's role as a housewife, paid employment, sex segregation, consciousness, birth rates and government policy towards women. .
Arthur Marwick has conducted much research in to the impact of the second world war and the status of women, and he reports that the war "led to a new social and economic freedom for them, as well as a marked consciousness." Much of his research is centred on the impact of the war for women who were in employment. Moreover he considers that there was a definite change in attitude exhibited by those housewives who were left at home doing traditional tasks. " In contrast to many other historians, he believes that the wartime changes affecting women did not end in 1945, but continued to shape their lives after the conflict." Studies by Margaret Goldsmith and Gertrude William's suggest that indeed a radical shift was apparent in the position of women. These conclusions were supplemented by a study commissioned by the International Labour office which concluded that there was definite evidence that there had been a move in women's position, yet it would more than likely be a short term shift due to the inevitable employment shortage which would occur when servicemen returned home. .
Some historians are of the opinion that the relative changes in the position of women was merely a response to the pressures of war.