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Pick One Intelligent Girl

Pick One Intelligent Girl: Employability, Domesticity and the Gendering of Canada's Welfare State, 1939-1947

Jennifer A. Stephen
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  • Book Info
    Pick One Intelligent Girl
    Book Description:

    This engaging study not only adds to the debates about the gendered origins of Canada's welfare state, it also makes an important contribution to Canadian social history, labour and gender studies, sociology, and political science.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8565-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-17)

    During the Second World War, women moved into the formal waged economy in record numbers, more than doubling the female labour force participation rate between 1939 and 1943. Civilian women quickly took advantage of newly opened spaces in the paid labour force and in the women’s divisions of the three armed services – army, navy, and air force. Bureaucratic Ottawa opened up somewhat as well, admitting women such as Fraudena Eaton and Dr Mary Salter at the Department of Labour and Dr Olive Ruth Russell at the Department of National Defence. The national mobilization of Canada’s womanpower was more than the...

  5. chapter one ‘I Want You to Pick One Intelligent Girl’: Mobilizing Canada’s Womanpower
    (pp. 18-37)

    By 1941, Canada had still not resolved the labour chaos that had plagued it since the war’s beginning. Canada’s role as a junior member of the Allied Forces was to supply stroops and materiel to the hard-pressed British forces stationed in Europe. Canadian industry was not really up to the challenge of meeting the high military production quotas needed to feed the increasingly voracious appetite of total war. The federal war cabinet designated key industries as essential to the war effort. Essential industries were under orders to suspend all production for civilian markets and concentrate instead on feeding the war...

  6. chapter two The National Selective Service Women’s Division and the Management of Women War Workers
    (pp. 38-65)

    On 26 August 1942, National Selective Service Women’s Division head Fraudena Eaton reported to Labour Minister Humphrey Mitchell on the progress of the female mobilization campaign. Her report, while generally positive, struck a note of concern for the moral conditions confronted by women war workers. The situation at the Cockshutt Plow Company was particularly disturbing. Indeed, conditions at the Brantford, Ontario, plant teetered dangerously on the brink of anarchy. Eaton was especially concerned about the ‘lack of supervision and discipline’ at the munitions plant. Women were free to wander away from their work stations whenever they felt the urge, ‘loitering...

  7. chapter three The Psychologist at War: Assessing and Recruiting for the Canadian Women’s Army Corps
    (pp. 66-98)

    In 1942, Dr Olive Ruth Russell found herself stationed in a tent on the very muddy grounds of the Toronto City Hall. She was accompanied by an army brass band heralding the presence of recruiters from the Canadian Women’s Army Corps (CWAC). Russell was dissatisfied. After only two months as personnel selection officer in Military District 2 (Toronto), she fired off a detailed list of policy recommendations to her director of personnel selection, Col. William Line, at national headquarters in Ottawa. In the first in a lengthy series of exchanges, Russell outlined what she perceived to be the lack of...

  8. chapter four Preparing for the Peace: The Demobilization of Women Workers
    (pp. 99-128)

    In the spring of 1944, the staff of the National Selective Service Women’s Division (NSSWD) coined a new phrase to capture the mood on the home front: ‘war weariness.’ Living quarters were cramped, factory shifts were long, and rationing measures meant that even the simplest pleasures were often unattainable or, if available ‘under the counter,’ expensive. But ‘war weariness’ captured only part of the mood. After all, women across Canada had carried much of this burden and could take stock of their efforts with pride. Whether taking the lead in clothing collection drives, promoting recycling and conservation drives to stockpile...

  9. chapter five ‘An Aptitude Test Is in Your Best Interest’: Canada’s Employment Charter for Women Veterans
    (pp. 129-162)

    By V-E Day on 8 May 1945, demobilization of Canada’s forces stationed in Europe was well underway. War continued in the Pacific region, although many expected that the Japanese capitulation could not be far off, even if the catastrophic circumstances surrounding the conclusion of that surrender remained the secure knowledge of a secretive political elite. Approximately 250,000 Canadian military personnel had already been discharged by V-E Day. That number climbed to 395,013 by the end of the year, and another 381,031 were discharged in the following year.¹ Canada’s major port facilities and cities were overflowing with military personnel, all anxious...

  10. chapter six The Return to Domesticity: Canada’s Womanhood in Training
    (pp. 163-204)

    From her post at the helm of the federal government’s Second World War ‘manpower’ agency, the National Selective Service Women’s Division (NSSWD), Fraudena Eaton would make sure that the disruption of women’s ‘normal’ employment wrought by the move to wartime production was temporary and even minimal, and that the pre-war occupational distribution and domestic status of women would once again be restored, and soon. Of the 4 million women registered in 1946 as being of ‘gainful occupational age’ at fourteen years or older, Eaton thought it was most appropriate that 2.4 million were now re-engaged in ‘homemaking.’¹ This high figure...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 205-224)

    As early as 1941, senior officials in the federal government (the ‘Ottawa men’), aware that Canada would face serious problems meeting military production quotas to supply the Allied Forces in Europe, asked,Is the individual a national asset worth developing?The answer, as Canada’s leading psychologists well knew, was a resounding yes! Psychological experts played a key role in forging policies that would guide Canada through the war, while simultaneously laying the foundation for the postwar social security state. The cream of Canada’s intelligence men and women, leading experts affiliated with the elite National Committee for Mental Hygiene (Canada) (NCMH),...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 225-266)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 267-292)
  14. Index
    (pp. 293-300)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 301-302)