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In what ways did the First World War change the employment opportunities of women in Britain?

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Assignment One: Objective 1 In what ways did the First World War change the employment opportunities of women in Britain? Women did not really have many jobs before the war started in 1914. Women were not permitted to have jobs because if they were married their loyalties ran with their husbands. This also applied if they had a child. The women's job was to make sure that the house was nice, clean and tidy for their husband to come back to and they had to cook all of the meals. Overall in life the women were expected to do all of this. They had to accept that they could not go to work; it was the job of their husband. The women were dependent upon the men to bring in the money so that they could go and buy everything so that they could cook the meals Pre 1914, women worked as servants and in factories. In 1914 there were 5.9million women working out of 23.7million. In domestic service, there were 1.5million women working, 900,00 were working in textiles and 500,000 in the sweated trade. Middle class women sometimes worked as lawyers, teachers, teachers or doctors. But this was a very small number and very few middle class married women would be working at all. ...read more.


As you can see, this is undoubtedly something that was very good for women and it helped to change society's attitudes towards women. The WAAC (Women's Army Auxiliary Corps) was set up because all the men fighting in the 'Great War' needed food, tanks, guns and machinery fixing, and the accounts to add up. This is another reason why women were needed during the war and not before. For clerical workers the ratios were 4 women to 3 men. Most women were expected to cook and once the war started some found they cooking for over 700 soldiers. Women were needed as nurses so the first VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) unit was set up in 1914. They worked in converted workhouses, hospitals and tents/huts much nearer the front line for immediate treatment. In the years running up to the war only a small number of people became sick, injured or hurt but during the war men are being severely wounded and need instant treatment that will save their lives. Women are wanted to work in the first aid to treat these men and make sure they have as much of a full recovery as possible. Middle class women did not work in the industries during the war but began to enter the professions. Many women began to take up teaching posts work in banks. ...read more.


Many trade unions continued to oppose greater employment opportunities for women, as they were a threat to men's jobs and wages. More women had entered domestic service after the war and it continued to be the most popular job amongst women with 245,000 more women employed as domestic servants after the war. Only in commerce did women get to keep their jobs. The most long lasting change came about for middle class women and numerous careers were opened to them after the war. However there was only a 2 percent increase in those working in these higher professions. The Sex Disqualification Act also helped to open professions to women. The war had failed to significantly change employment opportunities for women. However the war did change social opportunities for women and many gained the right to vote. Few women would return to their old attitudes and now, wore make-up, smoked, as well as using bad language in public. This was the one change, which could not be stopped by the government or the opposite sex. Changes in employment opportunities for women had begun before the war and would continue after the war for some years before any major change in employment opportunities for women would take place. The views that women were only good for marriage and raising children had been destroyed as a result of war but there was still a long way to go before the employment opportunities of women would change significantly. ...read more.

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