By Sara Arber, Nigel Gilbert (eds.)
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Additional resources for Women and Working Lives: Divisions and Change
As a filling factory Aycliffe received cases and explosives from engineering and explosives factories respectively and undertook the filling, assembly and testing of the final ammunition. In addition, there was a considerable range of ancillary services as well as the central administration. At its peak the factory employed some 17000 people, working on three shifts. Whereas women comprised 70 per cent of the labour force in filling factories in the country as a whole, they were about 85 per cent of the labour force at Aycliffe (Inman, 1957, p.
Respondents who had been in their teens or twenties during the war commented that many of the women they worked with had been older; these older women were unlikely to have been compelled to undertake war work, but could do so (and many had financial reasons for wanting to do so) because the work was so close to home. Those who had children could generally call on relatives, especially mothers, to help with child care. Secondly, the women adjusted to their jobs and to conditions of work in the yards more quickly and easily because neither was completely unfamiliar.
Some of these changes in patterns of employment would have occurred anyway, as they did elsewhere in the country. However, greater economic independence for women may well have been hastened by the confidence individual women gained from their experience of working in the munitions factory. lives. CONCLUSIONS The munitions factory did not represent a major challenge to the conventional division of labour in manufacturing industry. With few exceptions women were doing the sorts of work they customarily did, and men performed the work which was heavier, more skilled, or involved the exercise of authority.
Women and Working Lives: Divisions and Change by Sara Arber, Nigel Gilbert (eds.)