This notion became a popular perception of female authority and aptitude during the nineteenth century, when in contrast to their lowly ignitions in public arenas, women were expected to act as the principal focus of the family and family life. Their status in Irish society and particularly in rural Irish society was regarded as far below that of their fathers and sons, brothers and husbands. However the main responsibilities that women performed within their family in providing childcare, household tasks or farm duties conferred them “a remarkable degree of power and influence within their household”. Hill, Myrtle and Viviane Pollock 1993, p 7) Women working full-time in the home exemplify the ideal patterns of Irish life. These are the women who have settled down, who have reared or are rearing children and are homemakers on a full-time basis. This group is decreasing in size in Ireland. In 1996 married/cohabiting couples with a full-time housewife accounted for 63. 4 per cent of all couples, whereas they constituted 80 per cent in 1986 (CSS 1997) .

This group includes those in two different situations: full-time housewives with husbands in paid employment and those in households where neither is in paid employment- and it is the former group which has become less common. In 1996 women who were in full time in the home and whose husbands were in paid employment constituted 39 per cent of all married or cohabiting couples, whereas in 1986 they constituted 53 per cent of such couples (CSS, 1997) as cited by O’Connor , pat( 1998 p 136) The level of education for women in each decade has also increased.

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Women working full-time at home were those who were unemployed before 1973 and had different reasons for not working: some of them were not allowed to work after they were married, others considered that child minding and being a house wife was more rewarding. Some of them had disagreements with their spouses in this respect also the lack of child care facilities were unavailable. No Job opportunities or high taxes were another reason that women would choose working at home instead of taking pal employment. O’Connor, Pat p 1 Women and paid employment In 1841 only 12. 5 per cent of occupied women were engaged in agricultural or food sectors. By 1911 13. 7 per cent of occupied women were engaged in agriculture (Daly, Mary 1997, app) When considering women’s economic contribution to the family between 1880-1920 it is often difficult to draw a clear line of distinction between work they carried out as part of their home life and work undertaken as employment outside the home.

One of the most significant income- raising employment concerns textile production. The importance of this industry in terms of both the domestic and national economy was crucially dependent on the work of women, who were employed in all stages of textile production, from the cultivation and preparation of raw materials to the making up and decoration of finished fabric, items of clothing and household materials.

There is no doubt that involvement in the many aspects of the textile industry brought security for a great number of women and their families. In many cases, money earned form textiles helped to stem the flow of migration from the countryside, and from Ireland itself, which characterized Irish society after the Famine of the sass. (Daly, Mary 1997 p 22-23) At the same time many of the women who secured cash reward from employment in textile production were frequently involved in other economic activities.

In Ireland as a whole the seasonal nature of much agricultural work, coupled with low levels of local paid work generally, ensured that a combination of different pursuits, undertaken at different times of the year or whenever lucrative opportunities presented themselves, offered hen best chances of success in the battle for personal and family survival. Reliance on more than one type of paid work is one of the central features of rural and marginal economies and one of the major hallmarks of economic life throughout much of nineteenth and early twentieth century in Ireland. In 1881, 814,659 women, were involved in some kind of paid work.

Nearly 96,000 of these women or Just over 12 per cent worked in agriculture or agriculture related activities, such as food or drink. Whilst 31 per cent of those women classed as employed in industry worked in textile production, female factory workers also reduced rope, tobacco products, china and crockery. Domestic service was another major area of employment for women, accounting for 29 per cent of the recorded female workforce. Many thousands of women were employed in some form of home- based self-employment, their status ranging from shop owners and innkeepers, to the market and street traders.

The introduction of the typewriter in the sass and its widespread adoption by the business fuelled the expansion of the clerical support sector as an almost exclusively female preserve. (Hill, Myrtle 1993 p 38-39) Patterns of paid work 1921-1961 The main source of numerical information about women’s paid work is the occupational tables of the censuses of the population of 1926, 1936, 1946, and 1 YOU . Even tong teeny 00 not take Into account ten part – tale earnings AT women they give us a broad outline of trends.