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Modern Jobs for Modern Women: Female Military Service in Britain, 1945-1962

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Title: Modern Jobs for Modern Women: Female Military Service in Britain, 1945-1962
Author(s): Fountain, Julie A.
Advisor(s): Zweiniger-Bargielowska, Ina
Contributor(s): Sack, James; Fidelis, Malgorzata; Noakes, Lucy; Hicks, Marie
Department / Program: History
Graduate Major: History
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Chicago
Degree: PhD, Doctor of Philosophy
Genre: Doctoral
Subject(s): women Britain military service social history postwar Britain careers work social change armed forces military Women's Royal Army Corps Women's Royal Air Force Women's Royal Naval Service Royal Navy Royal Air Force British Army
Abstract: “Modern Jobs for Modern Women: Female Military Service in Britain, 1945-1962” examines the first generation of British servicewomen to serve in peacetime under regular, full-time engagements. The Women’s Royal Air Force, the Women’s Royal Army Corps, and the Women’s Royal Naval Service were created out of the successful women’s auxiliaries that had employed hundreds of thousands of women during the Second World War. Through the 1950s and 1960s, these permanent services employed British women in clerical and domestic, as well as technical, positions all over Britain and the world. Although this period is generally considered a low ebb of feminism, Britain’s armed forces were at the same time declaring their commitment to recruiting women as an “integral part” of their services. Based on an extensive reading of official files alongside materials produced by servicewomen themselves, I examine how women fit into the military in peacetime, both in terms of discipline and employment as well as identity and lifestyle. Although the women’s services were initially formed in anticipation that the next war would be a total war on the same lines as the Second World War, their place in overall personnel policy evolved to meet the new nuclear strategy. Women were intended to help rebalance the distribution of tasks in the armed forces, so that men could be employed almost exclusively on technical and combat-oriented tasks. Postwar servicewomen continued the process started by wartime auxiliaries of claiming military symbols and culture for themselves. Their organizations were models of a conservative kind of feminism, giving women authority in their own sphere and promoting the pursuit of career goals alongside domesticity. The dissertation thus contributes to literature that expands military history beyond the realm of active campaigning and technological development, as well as literature on gender and war and the history of women’s work.
Issue Date: 2015-07-21
Genre: thesis
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10027/19592
Date Available in INDIGO: 2017-07-22
Date Deposited: 2015-05
 

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