Summary Of The Decline Of Women In Canadian Dairying From Social History

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During the second half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century in Canada, a large shift occurred in the dairying industry. Dairying was traditionally domestic work performed by women in the family until men overtook the industry. Many factors led to men involving themselves in the dairy industry. During the nineteenth and twentieth century, Canada was going through their industrial revolution, changing many farm practices into factory work, leading to a much more efficient, cost-effective, and less-skilled manner. The government subsidies that resulted in men investing into this industry was another contributing factor leading to the displacement of women. Most importantly, the gender roles during this time negated women from …show more content…

Marjorie Griffin Cohen explores this phenomenon from multiple perspectives. She outlines her argument with sections in her piece: beginning with dairying as women’s work, the significance of dairying to the farm economy, conditions of female dairying, growth in markets, the rise of cheese factories, changes in butter-making, government aid, and the conclusion (Cohen, 1984). Cohen’s argument is that women could not translate a domestic craft into capital income which resulted in men taking over the industry (Cohen, 1984, 334). Cohen’s proves this with statistics of when dairying was not the primary source of income on a farm, and it was women’s work. Dairying began to produce serious amounts of revenue for the farm even before men became involved, proving that women produced dairy products properly at the time. She then explained travelling dairy schools that educated men in this industry that was funded by the government. She then described the subsidies that were offered to men to begin factories for creameries and also explained that women did not receive this government aid. Cohen’s argument outlines that women did not create their own business which led them to their demise. The social environment and cultural assumptions that women faced at the time would have made it impossible to begin their industry. With women still primarily being responsible for domestic duties, women would not be able to leave their homes for prolonged periods of time. Women may have had a monopoly on the dairying industry when they had the most experience; there was never a point where women had control of the market. Merchants were predominantly men, and she outlined examples where merchants would barter with the dairywomen for lower prices. Women’s activity in the market during this era were not taken

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