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A History of Gender and the Home

In this section we explore some of the themes that have influenced the gendering of the home over time. These include health developments, technology, social attitudes, government policy and organisational practices.
© University of Exeter

In this section we explore some of the themes that have influenced the gendering of the home over time. These include health developments, technology, social attitudes, government policy and organisational practices. There is so much more that could be said on this topic – and you might have some good examples of your own – so use this timeline as a starting point and think about what else might be included.

A History of Gender and the Home

Year/Period Theme Event
1779 Pre-school care The first pre-school was launched in Strasbourg, France
1800 Maternal mortality 900 in 100,000 women worldwide died from pregnancy or childbirth
19th Century Breadwinner model Said to have emerged as an idea during the industrial revolution and primarily affecting the middle classes, this was a family model where the adult male became the breadwinner for the family (instead of all members of the family working)
1917 Day care facilities By this date around 100 financially supported day care centres were available in the UK – but only for women working in the munitions industry, supporting the war effort
1920’s Gendered spheres Some women resisted the right to vote because it wasn’t their ‘proper sphere of life’. There were also widely held views that married women shouldn’t work. However, it was also at this time that many women remained single and required an income due to the generation of men lost at war
1930’s Electricity and Devices More widespread introduction of electricity into homes, and rise of labour-saving devices (vacuum cleaners, irons etc). Reduction in domestic help
1950’s Birth rate Between 1950-55 the birth-rate per 1000 people worldwide was 37.2%
1962 Marriage Bar Barclays Bank in the UK removed their marriage bar (preventing married women from working)
1970 Stay at home mothers US: 40% of married women with working husbands stayed at home to raise the family
1974 Shared parental leave Sweden was the first country to introduce parental leave that could be split between mothers and fathers
1975 Working women 57% of working aged women in the UK were employed or self-employed
1979 One-Child Policy China Introduced a one-child policy, limiting family sizes and population growth
1993 Shared Parental Leave Norway introduced a ‘daddy quota’ to ensure some of the shared leave was taken by fathers
2000’s Birth rate Between 2000 and 2005 the birth-rate per 1000 people worldwide was 20.3%
2010 Free child care The UK launched a programme offering 15 free child care hours for young children
2012 Stay at home mothers US: 20% of married women with working husbands stayed at home to raise the family
2015 Maternal mortality 216 in 100,000 women worldwide died from pregnancy or childbirth
2015 Shared parental leave Shared parental leave introduced in the UK
2017 Working women 78% of working aged women in the UK were employed or self-employed
© University of Exeter
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