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

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Introduction

Charlie Partridge 10wa3 GCSE History Assignment One: Describe the employment opportunities of women in Britain in 1914 at the outbreak of war: The First World War brought many changes both to the position of women in society and in the ways that women thought about themselves. Pre-war, women were regarded as second class citizens. They were not even allowed to vote for their Member of Parliament or, become an MP themselves. Pre-war, most women in the working class worked in the 'sweated trade' such as hat and dress making at home. In the industrial areas of Britain e.g. the north and the midlands; women worked in factories and throughout the country. Most middle class women were employed as shop assistants or in the office; however, some middle class women that had an opportunity to go to university had a chance to be a teacher. Few worked as chefs, or Doctors; however these jobs were seen as male orientated. In 1914, only one third of all women in Britain were in some form of paid employment, and generally, women's jobs were lower paid than men's. ...read more.

Middle

So by mid-1915, almost one million women were employed in huge shell making factories around Britain, however women looked down on the female factory workers. But, the workers just explained that they were willing to die for their country. The Right to Serve March was introduced in 1915 and 40,000 women went to the House of Commons to protest, the government gave �3000 to Mrs Pankhurst. Also, the Marchioness of Londonderry set up a women's legion in 1915. The National Registration Act was merged by mid 1915. Women worked in the shipyards and drove trams, buses and ambulances. Women built aeroplanes and airships. This type of work reflects the tremendous change in attitude to women as workers. Also, women were enlisted to work in 3 services; the WAAC, WRNS, and the WRAF. The idea, before the war, that women should drive motorcars was remarkable enough, though during the war, women became engineers. 48,000 women worked as labourers on the land in the Women's Land Army. These jobs proved that women had the stamina and the skill to cop with tasks that people had thought only men could do. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, the assumption, 'a woman's place is in the home' returned. The percentage of women at work returned to pre-war levels. But, the good experience of women working in clerical posts changed the statistics and more women than men worked in offices. By 1919, around 750,000 women that had factory jobs had been dismissed. Employers just expected women to return back to their traditional women's jobs that they had done pre-war - dressmaking, laundry work and domestic service. However, after the war, many working class women reported feelings that they were more ready to stand up for themselves and aim higher than they had ever been allowed to before. Although employment opportunities had not differed greatly- attitudes were slowly changing. The Sex Disqualification Removal Act was put in place in 1919 and in that same year, Oxford University, allowed women to study and stand as MP's. Arguably, self -determination and self -worth is the most important thing a person can have. And in many aspects, the women's war effort was extremely valuable as a person, to themselves. There was particular evidence of this new self -worth due to an increasing number of women refused to go back to menial jobs such as domestic service and I don't blame them! ...read more.

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