Accueil > Membres > Membres > Martine STIRLING


Date de mise en ligne : [03-03-2009]

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  • "Images of spinsters in British parliamentary debates during the inter-war years", Single women in history 1000-2000, University of Bristol/West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network Annual Conference, 23 juin 2006. (Word - 60.5 ko)

    The area of research I have chosen to focus on is the way in which spinsters were portrayed or talked about in Parliament between the wars and the impact this had on legislation and their quality of life. It is based on an analysis of Hansard debates between 1918 and 1939. This 20-year time-span is particularly interesting and dramatic from several points of view : not only does it link two worldwide conflicts, it also marks the beginning of real emancipation for women with the two stages of the franchise (1918 and 1928), the appearance of the first women MPs (with Viscountess Astor) but it is also a period marked by soaring unemployment, a plummeting birth-rate and increasing overseas tensions all of which had a bearing on the lives of women and their place in society and deeply influenced the political discourse on women.
  • "Politics and the working woman in Great-Britain 1928-1939" Women, history and the business environment, The Women’s Library/London Metropolitan University, Londres, 26 février 2004. (Word - 58.5 ko)

    Combining motherhood with full-time work in Britain today is still a major problem for many women ; Equal Opportunity Commission research has revealed that at least 100 000 women lose their jobs through pregnancy each year, and one-third give up their full-time activity at the birth of their first child – by far the highest rate in Europe. Still one of the key factors today is the high cost of child-care and its lack of availability, often combined with a general feeling that a mother’s place is at home with the children.

    This situation might seem strange as Britain was one of the first European countries to give women the right to vote and to sit in Parliament. Therefore this paper will attempt to see how historical developments in Britain, particularly in political life, could have led to the current state of affairs. The focus will be on what happened after women gained the right to vote on the same terms as men in 1928 and how this influenced government policy ; the role of women and mothers as reflected in parliamentary debates of the time right up to Britain’s entry into the war on September 3rd 1939 is of particular interest.

    During these years of growing external pressure and high unemployment, what was the perceived role of women and how did this impact on their working conditions ? To what extent and in which direction did the slowly growing body of women MPs influence the discourse on women and mothers and ultimately, work legislation ?
    The paper will concentrate on commons debates in connection with women’s work, its place and its value : Widows, Orphans and Old Age Contributory Pensions (Voluntary Contributors) Act, 1937 ; Employment of Women and Young Persons Act, 1936 ; Civil Estimates and Estimates for Revenue Departments (equal pay in common classes of the civil service), 1936. References to discriminatory regulations, such as the marriage bar, which crop up periodically in debates are also taken into account. The overall intention of the paper being to put together a picture of political attitudes of the time towards working women, their right to work and the value attributed to their effective contribution to society both as workers and as mothers.
  • Law as a driving force or an impediment to the transformation of gender relations, Internationaler Kongress Recht und Gender Studies 2006, University of Zurich/FRI, 15 et 16 septembre 2006. (Word - 57.5 ko)

    In 1918, following a long and desperate campaign by the Suffragettes, all British women over thirty were given the right to vote ; the same year, the Qualification of Women Act also enabled women to stand for Parliament. The first woman MP to take a seat in the house of Commons in 1919 was the conservative Nancy Astor . She was to keep it for 26 years. Although this was a major breakthrough, the figures seemed to show that women would have very little influence, if any, on legislation and political life in Britain : between 1918 and 1944, the number of women MPs remain under two per cent of the overall total in the House of Commons ; in 1945, this figure rose sharply to 4%, with 24 women MPs – still a very small proportion compared to the 616 men. Only 9 women succeeded in obtaining government posts for the whole of the interwar period ; although one of them became famous, Margaret Bondfield, as the first woman ever to become a cabinet member , most of the women appointed were at junior level. In addition, women were barred from entering the House of Lords, to which they gained access in 1958 only .
  • Maître de conférences

    Discipline : Anglais / Civilisation britannique

    Organisme de rattachement : CRINI, Centre de recherches sur les identités nationales et l’interculturalité, UFR de Langues, Département d’Anglais, Université de Nantes, Rue de la Censive du Tertre, BP 81227 44312 NANTES CEDEX 3

  • Axes de recherche :

    - En tant que civilisationniste, mes travaux portent essentiellement sur l’étude de l’évolution du statut juridique et social de la femme britannique depuis le début du XXe siècle, notamment par le biais de l’analyse des débats parlementaires.

    - Mots-clés : histoire politique et sociale, RU, études-genre, politique, débats parlementaires.

    Adresse internet :


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    Publications :

      Articles :

    - "Le discours parlementaire sur les femmes pendant la Deuxième Guerre mondiale en Grande-Bretagne", revue LISA, Turbulences dans les rôles masculins et féminins : femmes et guerres au Royaume-Uni (XXe siècle), Vol. VI, No 4, 2008, Littérature et Civilisation des Pays de Langue Anglaise, Université de Caen.

    - "Controlling maternity and childbirth : the 1936 Midwives Bill, Gender, Health and Medicine in Historical Perspective", South Wales and South West England Women’s History Network and the Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter, 5-6 juillet 2008 (publication en cours).

    - "From Infanticide to Abortion laws 1931 – 1967 : maternity and women’s sexuality as a criminal issue", Women and Crime in the British isles and North America since 1500, Colloque international, Centre d’Analyses et de Recherches sur le Monde Anglophone, Université de Lyon 2 et Université de Lyon 3, 11-13 septembre 2008 (publication en cours dans la revue Crimes and Misdemeanours:Deviance and the Law in Historical Perspective/ “Women and Crime”).

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