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Describe the employment opportunities of women in Britain in 1914 at the outbreak of war.

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Introduction

Abdullah Mamaniat 10Q Assignment One: Objective One: - The Home Front Question 1 Describe the employment opportunities of women in Britain in 1914 at the outbreak of war. One of the biggest changes brought about by the First World War was the great increase in the number of women who went to work. At the outbreak of war in 1914, out of a total female population of 23.7 million, nearly 5.9 million were working. The total number of women working went up by more than a million between 1914 and 1918, as women took over a wide variety of different jobs in order to release men for service in the forces. In 1914, most women, if they did work, had jobs in domestic service. In fact 1.5 million women and girls were employed in this trade. Domestic service was the employment of hired workers by private households for the performance of tasks such as housecleaning, cooking, child care, gardening and personal service. It also included the performance of similar tasks for hire in public institutions and businesses, including hotels and boarding houses. This meant that many women worked for well off big houses as parlour maids, scullery maids, laundry maids, kitchen maids and cooks. However, not all women were fortunate enough to be able to work in these big houses and hotels. Some domestic servants worked in exceedingly dreadful conditions. Working long hours as chambermaids, cleaners or cooks, they were made to live in the attics of houses where it was awfully cold and windy. These women were made to work immensely hard and were merely given low wages. Sometimes they only got �5 or �10 per year. Additionally they were given very few days off. They often only got half day a week, or even a month, off. One of the reasons why the number of women in the domestic service was high was that the school leaving age was twelve. ...read more.

Middle

A National Register wa s set up to record who was doing what job in favour of the country. These jobs included working in munitions factories, working as policewomen, working in the hospitals, working as bus conductors, working as tram drivers, taking on milk and post rounds, and working as part of the Land Army- these were women who hel ped with farm work. With so many men away fighting, someone had to bring in the harvests and keep the farms going. The Women's Land Army played a vital part i n this and therefore helped to feed the country. Most women found a new freedom in war work. For several it was t he start of a new life. It was much better paid than the textile mills and dome stic service at the wage of up to even �5 a week! This allowed them to spend mo ney on whatever they want, not just food to feed the family. The Land Army Girl s also wore trousers. This was the first time it was acceptable for women to we ar trousers. By the end of the war over 900,000 women were found being employed in the munitions factories. Despite the relatively high pay, war work was unpleasant and dan gerous. Vital work was being done in the munitions factories by the women, whil st the men were away but it was very hazardous. Working with explosive chemical s meant that one explosion in a factory could trigger off many other ones. Also the protective clothing of today did not really exist then. Further the muniti on girls worked with sulphur. There was no protection from this dangerous chemical and the women who worked with sulphur found that their expos ed skin turned yellow as the chemical impregnated itself into any exposed skin. Therefore, your face and hands could take on a yellow tinge. These women were given the nick-name of "canaries". Some munition workers experienced lung and s kin diseases and infertility. ...read more.

Conclusion

was the firs t woman's service of all. It was established in 1917. Its main aim was to emplo y women as cooks, drivers etc., in order to release men for fighting. By 1918, the ideas had spread and there was now a Women's Royal Naval Service and a Wome n's Royal Air Force. Two new industries especially like recruiting women. These were industries that expanded very rapidly during the war and were motor car industr y and the aircraft sector. These kinds of jobs was generally thought to be `men 's jobs', however we can see that this was no longer true and also that the Fi rst World War gave the women the opportunity to work in places they had never d one before. In these industries, women worked as car mechanics and also found w ork in the aeroplane industry. Professionally there were more doctors, teachers, and women work ing in the bank and legal professions. Reuters used the first woman messenger i n 1917, and the first British woman diplomat was appointed in 1917. Although t here had been women doctors since the 1870s the First World War provided the fi rst real opportunity for career development for many highly qualified women. In conclusion we can see that the First World War really gave wo men the opportunity to explore new jobs and work in completely different places . It was also a chance to make the people realize that women were not useless a nd in one sense they helped win the First World War through their efforts at th e Home Front. Comparing it to the kinds of jobs they did at the outbreak of war in 1914, we can see that the First World War changed the employment opportunit ies of women in Britain dramatically. Nevertheless, after the war, there was en ormous pressure to remove women workers. But women were now established- the Fi rst World War had established them- they could do anything they wanted now. The y were now seen in a different capacity and their profile had been raised great ly. ...read more.

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