- There was more emphasis on the ways in which women differ from men than on what they have in common and their equal rights. This was the case in most countries at that time.
- The view that a woman's place was in the home was widespread in western countries then. This would leave men free to work and deal with the public business of the state.
- With this went the idea of the family wage: married men as breadwinners would earn enough to support their wives and children.
- Catholic social teaching supported these views on the role of women and the family wage.
- Conservative rural values prevailed, especially those of farmers whose votes were important to the main political parties and who supplied the majority of the members of the clergy and of the female teaching orders.
- There was a backlash in some quarters to the Women's Suffrage Movement, possibly because it was now associated with Britain, with modern, urban values and with industrialisation.
- There were so many problems and so much poverty that groups demanding equal rights or special treatment could be perceived as selfish.
- Many women 'held the purse strings' at home and did not feel disadvantaged themselves.
- Only a minority of women had second or third level education at this time.
- Large families and long hours of work in the home resulted in many women being poorly informed about women's issues and interests.
- Briefly describe what appears to have been the prevailing attitudes in the 1920s towards the role of women.
- Do you think most Irish women at the time accepted the prevailing attitudes towards the role of women? Give reasons for your answer.
- Briefly discuss your own opinion about these attitudes.
- Many women had been active in political and cultural organisations before the creation of the Irish Free State. Do the reasons given above fully explain, in your opinion, why they played such a minor role in the political life of the new state?
Organise a class debate on one of the following topics:
-That men should get preference in times of unemployment
-That TDs elected by both women and men constantly ignore the interests of women in Ireland.