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War Economy

Women in the Public Service

Women in the Public Service

The temporary staff included large numbers of women, many of whom had sought wartime jobs in the public service. The numbers of women in the public service, excluding a few on the permanent staff, reached a maximum of over 7000 in 1944. Some 5000 were clerical workers, the majority engaged to fill wartime vacancies. Many of these women had never before been in regular employment, and fewer still had experience in the type of work required of them in the public service. Generally speaking, they adapted themselves well. The incidence of sickness and other absences from work was much greater among wartime appointees than among other women employed in the public service, but this was in part explained by the fact that their average age was comparatively high and many were married with considerable domestic responsibilities.

Wartime experience, combined with the changed general employment situation, was to have a profound effect on attitudes to the employment of women in the public service. In 1939, 5 per cent of the clerical workers were women; by 1947 the proportion of women was to be 25 per cent.