Gendering class: Professional women, the modern state and the new middle class (298)
The history of the professions has traditionally focused on men, assuming that, until the second half of the twentieth century, marriage bans and gender norms deliberately excluded most women from the professions. Such assumptions were not incorrect, precisely, though historians and sociologists have not spent the time their analyses deserve on the masculinity of some professional enterprise. There is reason, however, to re-think some of our assumptions about gender and the professionalisation of the economy. Data from the Australian census 1881-1947, shows that women were in fact central to the growth of the professions as professional occupations made their first major intrusion into the labour force. Such encroachment by women, this paper will suggest, was not just statistical. Gendered forms of moral and affective labour deployed in large, often state-supported institutions (like hospitals and schools) helped simultaneously forge the modern state and a new middle class. This paper will consider the implications of this gendering for class formation in the first half of the twentieth century.