History KS3 / GCSE: Women in the workplace in the 1950s and 1960s

15-year-old Amba talks to her grandmother about her working life in the 1950s.

She left school at 14, and worked in food factories until she married at 17.

She returned to work part-time when her child went to school, in order to save up for expensive items such as a fridge, washing machine and car.

Dr Claire Langhamer from the University of Sussex puts this experience into context, saying that it reflects the experience of many women at the time, who worked for some extra money, but saw their main job as wife and mother.

Amba speaks to Patricia Barrett, who worked in a bank for 35 years and never wanted to marry.

She explains how women were treated differently to men at her bank – they earned less, were put on temporary contracts when they got married and weren’t offered work overseas.

This clip is from the BBC series Exploring the Past: Post War Britain.

Teacher Notes

This could be used to show how women faced restrictions in terms of job opportunities in the postwar period.

This could also be used to set up a discussion about laws preventing discrimination against women.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is relevant for teaching history at Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 / GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 3, 4 and 5 in Scotland.

Some of the social issues highlighted could also be relevant for teacher Citizenship, PSHE or Modern Studies.