Professor Linda McDowell's new book Working Lives: Gender, Migration and Employment in Britain, 1945- 2007 provides unique observations of the experiences and working lives of migrant women since World War Two. Unlike many other studies which focus on predominantly on male immigration, this study draws on over two decades of interviews with women and looks specifically at the working lives of these female migrants.
Reviewed in the Times Higher Education Supplement, Pat Thane described the book as "intriguing, [providing] important insights into the female immigrant experience". She writes "women have been a high proportion of migrants to Britain since at least 1945, coming alone or with families in search of work or experience, or as refugees. Most have needed to work, and, more often than British-born women, work full-time."
The book explores the ways in which the UK labour market has transformed since World War Two, mapping the changing makeup of migrant populations over the decades. Today's migrant communities are from more diverse geographical heritages but remarkable synergies exist in their experiences. Educated female migrants often arrived only to find low- paid service industry type jobs, a situation mirrored by today's migrants.
In her opening chapter, Linda writes, "I wanted to put women at the centre of a history for post-war migration as they too often feature only in the margins of the growing number of books exploring the relatively recent past."
"My key aim is to explore the changing connections between immigration, employment and gender relations since 1945. Moving between places and going out to work typically challenge and reshape conventional assumptions about gender divisions of labour and the different responsibilities of the men, women and children, in the home as well as in the workplace".