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A Woman's Work is Never Done? Exploring Housework in Interwar Queensland

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 February 2016

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The woman who demands assistance from her husband in her home is failing in her part of the marriage bargain, and the husband who gives it is losing his prestige as head of the house.

— Letter from ‘Mother’ of New Farm, Courier-Mail, 6 February 1939, p 14

The letter from ‘Mother’ in the Brisbane suburb of New Farm endorsed the assumed and actual centrality of unpaid work within the home for most white women in Queensland — especially for wives — in the interwar years. It accepted a division of labour in which men were defined primarily as breadwinners; by contrast, and despite female participation in the formal economy, the major role for women was that of wife and mother. This allocation of responsibilities was a fundamental component of the gender segregation which characterised work and the Queensland economy in this period.

Research Article
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