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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Employment after Marriage

About one married woman in eight is at present in gainful employment. Married women constitute one-third of the total female labour force, a considerably larger proportion than the twelfth who participated only 25 years ago. This change is due to a number of factors – the availability of work, the change in attitude towards married women in employment, the modern conveniences which lessen the time they need to spend in running their homes, and the desire for certain “extras” which cannot be paid for out of the husband's income. A few women work through inclination or social pressure to relieve a difficult labour situation – the current shortage of teachers has resulted in a return to the schools of married women with young children who would normally be happier at home. Another small group of women with young families who are obliged to take up employment comprises those who by force of circumstances are themselves the breadwinners.

As has happened in many other countries, once the family is self-supporting and independent, a number of women resume their careers because they sincerely get more stimulation and satisfaction from their work than they do from their household and leisure activities or because they are anxious to acquire further possessions. Others take on some entirely different work from that for which they were trained in order to gain a fresh interest. Older women are tending to be just as keen as the young unmarried ones to make an overseas trip, and they look for employment to help to pay for it.

The country's economic gain from the number of married women at work is to a slight extent offset by a rise in child welfare cases and offenders charged in the Children's Court. Investigations have shown that in many instances the mother's absence has been a contributing factor to the behaviour problem. It has also engendered an impatience to have as soon as possible a complete range of material possessions which parents only a generation back were prepared to accumulate over a much longer period of their lives. The spirit of competition to have as good as the next person has undoubtedly been one of the factors in the almost uniformly high standard of living achieved by the women of New Zealand.