The rise and fall of the women's structures in the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers 1985-2005

Quinn, Esther (2018) The rise and fall of the women's structures in the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers 1985-2005. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis charts the rise and fall of women’s structures in the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (USDAW) from their introduction in 1985 to their demise in 2005. It explores the factors leading to the establishments of the Women in USDAW structures, analyses the achievements and challenges, and seeks to explain why they were disbanded. The research is set in the context of what happened in the trade union and wider labour movement and the women’s movement in that period.
The thesis argues that that the introduction of the Women in USDAW structures was more about increasing women’s membership at a time of significant decline, rather than increasing female participation and representation. It finds that USDAW women were more visible, more active and more involved in campaigning, contributing to a higher profile for women’s issues. The oral testimonies from Scottish women involved with the Women in USDAW committees complement the documentary evidence and demonstrate how the women’s structures provided new avenues for female participation not available to them in the mainstream structure. Evidence shows that progress for women was not linear. The research highlights the continuing under-representation of women in the union, and the ongoing male resistance and hostility to separate women’s structures. On the demise of the women’s structures, the thesis argues that a significant factor is that in their composition and operation they remained firmly in the control of the male leadership and that this hindered the development of autonomous women’s structures.
The thesis plays a part in retrieving women trade unionists from obscurity and including them in the historical record. It contributes to the historiography of women in trade unions, specifically to the debate on separate women’s structures.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Trade unions, women union activists, women' committees, feminism.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Economic and Social History
Supervisor's Name: Eleanor, Professor Gordon
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: ms Esther Quinn
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-40908
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2019 14:09
Last Modified: 26 Feb 2019 11:25
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/40908

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