UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The married woman in employment -- an exploratory study of how her employment affects the woman, and her relationship with her family, and the community. Bardal, Margret Stefania


The proportion of women in the Canadian labour force has grown steadily in recent decades. Many of these, however, are younger women who retire from gainful employment after marriage. Married women who work are a special section of the population; they have been the subject of social studies in several countries, but not so far in Canada. This thesis is a supplementary study, influenced by the national survey of married women who are gainfully employed now being undertaken (1956) by the Women's Bureau of the Canadian Department of Labour. The facts reviewed in this present report are obtained from only fifty of the women Interviewed in one of the sample cities (Vancouver); but the opportunity has been taken to make them the basis of all the pros and cons of the situation, including the reasons for working, the types of work, and the effects on family life. The schedule used for the interviews is a standardized, comprehensive one worked out with the assistance of a national advisory committee including the research directors of the Schools of Social Work in Canada. Only a minimum of statistical tabulation is undertaken for this limited sample; a few other schedules obtained from university students were added, and there is no intention to present the information as statistically representative. A systematic review of the qualitative material is attempted, however, to illustrate the differentials which must be considered in a definitive assessment. After experiment with other classifications, it was found most effective to distinguish three main groups (a) families composed of husband and wife without children (or younger dependents); (b) "complete" families with husband and wife and children in the home, and (c) "broken" families, in which the working mother was a widow, separated or divorced, or with dependent or partially dependent husband. The significance of these differences is readily apparent from the views recorded. It was also apparent that the socio-economic differences associated with different levels of income and grade of work (e.g., professional, clerical, service, factory) are of direct importance in modifying the consequences for the family; but these could only be indicated illustratively. In a final section, an endeavour is made to bring together all provisional findings, distinguishing broadly the implications (a) for the woman as a person and as a marital partner, (b) for the children, and parental aspects of family life, and (c) for the community as a whole.

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