In 1939 the war broke out in Europe. Canada was still fighting the struggle to rebuild their economy from the depression of the 1930's . A great number of Canadian Women were affected both directly and indirectly. As more then a million of our full time service men and Militia went across seas to fight the war many women were left home alone with no husband’s, son’s, brother’s or any other male relatives . The Depression sported more the 900,000 Canadians out of work, and 20 per cent of these were women . The Military Recruitment and the new war industry put an end to the Depression, and the widespread unemployment that accompanied it. By 1941 the population of women in the labour force had already jumped by 100,000. The employment of women was now highly evident in almost all of Canada .
It is obvious now in retrospect that for the most part the Second World War divided Canada’s men and women. But to fully understand this we have to first know why men and women, in most aspects of the war, were given this sexual division. We must also get a good scope of what was accepted and expected of men and women before the war broke out.
From the first natives in Canada to the industrializing society of today men and women have had different gender roles in society. These have reflected the norms, values, and beliefs of our culture that have been in Canada as long as the “white man” has. Although these are rapidly changing now, at the time of World War II, they were set in traditional ways. Based on the biological differences between men and women, separate spheres were formed within society . Traditionally there was such beliefs as a women’s brain had inferior capabilities, women were fraught with problems, women were incapable to comprehend university education, and women were genetically made to bear and rear children . These are only a few of the labels that were put on women to keep them in a “separate sphere” of a society. Through history women were given these labels to keep them at home while the men were to support the family. “The care of the children appeared to be mother’s sole work and the work of the mothers alone.” As for those young women that were not yet mother’s, they were to stay at home and help tend to the house chores and child care. Canada was a society that believed competition, between men and women, to bring the money home would break down the traditional ways that “nature” set about . Because of the roles and beliefs that tied women down at home, mobility into other work was both difficult and frowned upon.
With the onset of the twenty first century we see more female mobility out of the home to “women’s occupations.” Most of the industries women were employed in were teaching, office work, telephone operation, sales, textile and canning factory work, and nursing . For example, in 1941 the top male jobs were farmers and labourers. The top female positions were baby sitters and maids . Considering that there was widespread unemployment in all of these industries before the war women were still playing…