You can create your own categories or add to the ones provided. The women's contingent included many textile workers. However, these jobs were low paid and involved long working hours and shift work.
How the experience of the First World War changed the lives of millions of women Judith Orr Featured Articles Women found new independence and showed themselves and the rest of society that they could do jobs that before the war would have been unthinkable.
During the First World War Women Post Office workers took on the role of drivers of horse drawn vehicles, a job previously reserved for men There is a myth that the war brought women into industrial work for the first time.
In fact many women had always worked in industry—in coalmines, cotton mills and potteries. But the war did change things. In the years leading up to the war, British capitalism had faced a crisis of rule on several fronts. The role that women played during the war as workers meant that their lives and expectations would never be quite the same again.
Up to two million women moved into previously male-only industrial jobs. They replaced the ever greater numbers of men being sent to fight in the bloody trenches of the Somme and Paschendale.
The work they did was dirty, sometimes dangerous and usually on a lower wage than the male workers had received.
Before the war some 1. For these women war work was a revelation. Even the low wages were higher than they had ever earned before and they had more independence than live-in servants ever experienced. Ethel Dean left her job in domestic service to work in a munitions factory at Woolwich Arsenal in London and relished the freedom the job gave her.
You just go home of a night, wherever you live, and you can go out when you like. The Arsenal factory had a workplace nursery and mothers who worked the night shift got an extra child care allowance. Clothes changed to accommodate manual work.
Trousers and shorter skirts appeared. No metal could be worn in the munitions factories so this meant no corsets. Long hair could get caught in machines so women started wearing it short.
Much was written about the risk to public morality of the new freedoms of working women. The government appointed welfare inspectors—the forerunners of the first women police officers—to try and control the morality of women workers. These mainly middle class women patrolled parks and alleys chasing away couples trying to find some privacy.
But they faced resistance and resentment. Assumptions about what women were capable of were shattered. Suddenly it suited the politicians and bosses to break from the ideology of women being incapable and weak, at least temporarily.
Now they pushed women to the limits of endurance in the name of the war. Protective legislation was abolished.
The same ruling class that had stubbornly refused women the right to vote now pumped out propaganda demanding women serve the war effort. Because such women could often drive they became ambulance drivers, sometimes right up to the frontline.
But at home millions of working class women faced tough and dangerous war work. Shifts could involve standing for 12 hours or more. Women who worked in the munitions factories making shells worked in the most dangerous conditions.
They were also nicknamed the canary girls because of the effect of working with TNT. The work left many women with long term health problems such as jaundice and mercury poisoning—over women died of overexposure to TNT alone.
Accidents and explosions were common, but were hushed up with government censorship controlling what could be reported. Throughout the war there were struggles for better treatment and parity with male wages. During these years the number of women workers in trade unions rose from aroundto over one million.
The proportion of unionised women rose by percent, compared to a rise of 45 percent of men. But women workers often came up against prejudice and fear within the unions that they could be used to undermine male wages after the war.
When a man is taken on he is not asked to show if he can do the job as much as another man, but a woman has to go through the test, and wherever possible her wages are reduced.
Hat makers, dressmakers, hotel and restaurant workers all went on to forge union organisations. But when the war was over the government and much of the trade union leadership wanted to put the clocks back. Hundreds of thousands of women quickly lost their jobs.Women had demonstrated amazing work and courage during World War I and World War II.
After the two wars women became free to create their own lives and senses of self.
With this increase in freedom also came an increase in equality. During the First World War Women Post Office workers took on the role of drivers of horse drawn vehicles, a job previously reserved for men T here is a myth that the war brought women into industrial work for the first time.
After the First World War many returning servicemen reclaimed the available jobs, and the numbers of women workers, particularly in industry and trade declined. During the s and 30s the UK economy was plunged into a recession leading to very high levels of unemployment. While the war offered many new choices for women and work, it did not usually lead to a rise in the salaries of women, which were already much lower than men's.
In Britain, rather than paying a woman during the war what they would have paid a man, as per government equal pay regulations, employers split tasks down into smaller steps, employing a woman for each and giving them less for doing it. After the First World War many returning servicemen reclaimed the available jobs, and the numbers of women workers, particularly in industry and trade declined.
During the s and 30s the UK economy was plunged into a recession leading to very high levels of unemployment. Changing lives: gender expectations and roles during and after World War One Women’s War Work in maintaining industries & exports in the United Kingdom.
Motherhood, and Politics in Britain and France during the First World War (); Women and the First World War (); The First World War: A Brief History with Documents.