Women at Work looks at the changing and expanding horizons for
New Brunswick women from the late 1800's to the late 1900's - by focusing on the
work engaged in by women, paid or unpaid. Though the Exhibit only provides glimpses
of the work activities of specific NB women whose work may have been regarded as
exceptional in its own time, it is expected that these examples are not aberrations
- but are representative of what must have happened across the province.
The Exhibit does not consider, in any depth, the efforts which were required to
push back the narrow borders which traditionally demarked "women's work" in this
province and elsewhere. Instead, Women at Work looks at the evident
successes of NB women as they stepped out of their traditional roles of unpaid domestic
labour - shown in many of the photos on the first four panels - and performed work
previously carried out by men or created and operated their own businesses. Each
of the successes of the NB women made the road smoother for those who followed and
for those who wished to strike out farther.
The Exhibit is arranged chronologically in three general time frames: pre-World
War I (1885-1914), the interwar years (1915-1939) and World War II and later years
The Exhibit hints that "women's work" was as Elspeth Tulloch (We, the undersigned,
A History of N.B. Women, 1784-1984) noted, perhaps never so narrow as often
defined and shows examples of women doing the unexpected in these early years. The
later periods (Panels 5-11) allow the viewer to clearly see the increase in the
variety of types of work which women performed. In the interwar years, women had
better access to university education, and though most still became nurses or teachers,
these were no longer the only occupations open to them. Obviously, because of the
pioneering women who had not "gone quietly" before, because of improving educational
opportunities for women, and because "the times they are a changing", women had
choices to make regarding their own lives, particularly their working lives.
Women at Work documents those choices (showing women participating
in politics, in medicine, in the legal sphere, in church, in broadcasting, in universities,
and in a variety of businesses) and celebrates those choices.
How to view this exhibit:
Click a year range at the top of the page to view a drop-down list of panels.
Choosing a panel from the list will display the images within that panel as well
as a description of each image. Click on any image to get a larger view.