Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Women and the War at Home: Pictou County Women in Industrialized Work, 1939 to 1945: The New Woman Worker of Shipbuilding
Kirby Ross, Halifax Women’s History Society and Saint Mary’s University
As Canada entered the Second World War, the opportunities for women had to change drastically, as a vast number of men were sent across the world to fight against the Axis powers. World War Two provided newfound opportunities for women to join work forces which had previously been closed off to them. Particularly, these new jobs were found in the industrial settings that men left. Employers in Pictou County needed to replace the missing men, and women filled these positions. Industrial roles clearly differed from the domestic work that women primarily performed before the war years. Some of these jobs were in fields that women had worked in during World War One while others represented new opportunities. In Pictou County, women began working in different industrial fields, such as shipbuilding. With labour shortages, the attitude towards women working in this field changed as demand grew for these jobs to be filled. In examining Pictou County, an important industrial center in Nova Scotia but relatively small by Canadian or global standards, the presentation will analyse not only the new work opportunities that opened to women in shipbuilding but also illustrate the ties between these new industrial opportunities and women’s prior experience and the social and economic networks that shaped their industrial employment.