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Women's professional employment in Wales 1880-1939

Jenkins, Beth 2016. Women's professional employment in Wales 1880-1939. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis examines women’s professional employment in Wales between 1880 and 1939. It explores women’s negotiation of professional identities, their formation of professional networks, and their relationship with the broader women’s movement over this formative period in the emergence of the professions. The thesis contributes to neglected histories of women and the middle class in Wales, and enhances our understanding of the strategies women used to enter professional society. As the first major study of women’s professional employment in Wales, the thesis suggests that the Welsh women’s experience did exhibit some distinctive features. Women’s education attained a political and cultural importance in Wales from the late nineteenth century. But the nation’s economic development offered limited opportunities for educated women’s paid employment. This exacerbated the high proportion of women in the teaching profession, and meant that women’s professional employment was confined to a smaller range of occupations in Wales by the outbreak of the Second World War. Unlike most related studies of women’s work which focus on individual occupations, this thesis provides a comparative approach of women’s employment in medicine, teaching and academia. Such an approach reveals the interconnections and networks between groups of professional women and allows for analysis of an overarching feminine version of professional identity. In doing so, the thesis argues that women participated in professional society by exploiting – rather than directly challenging – contemporary gender norms and existing professional practices. By exploiting contemporary gender norms, women developed a distinctive feminine professional identity which highlighted their ‘natural’ skills and, following professional practices, they increasingly institutionalised their networks into women’s professional organisations and capitalised upon professional ideals of meritocracy.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 26 January 2017
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2022 13:49

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