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How did world war one affect opportunities for women in Britain?

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How did world war one affect opportunities for women in Britain? Before WW1 opportunities for women, particularly job opportunities, were virtually non-existent. On the arrival of WW1, the few women who did have jobs were made redundant. This was due to the lack of demand for employees of the small, insignificant businesses that women were allowed to work for. For example; women fish gutters were made redundant when fishing boats stopped work when German ships patrolled the sea. These job losses meant that almost 50% of women were unemployed by September 1914, and the war struck Britain in August 1914. However, by mid 1915 the unemployment figures for women dropped from then on. This essay shall cover some of the reasons why this occurred. After the war had started in August 1914, it was clear that it would not be over by Christmas that year. This encouraged thousands of men to volunteer for the army, to fight for their country. This surge of men signing up meant that there were a lot of jobs going free which were usually thought of as unsuitable for women because they were too "demanding". ...read more.


Wages were reasonable - the average pay was �2 a week. Women could take up new opportunities for greater freedom and independence. They could go to the cinema, music halls and public houses. Working in munitions factories was not the only option women had - in fact it was mainly unskilled working class women that took those jobs. There were other jobs for the middle class like nursing, surgery, medicine, teaching, secretarial, military services (WAAG). These were reasonably well-paid jobs also, but there was no chance of being promoted, and women did not get the same wages as men in the same profession. One of the more popular of these choices was work in the medical professions. This was not only because many people in this line of work had gone to war, but also because more doctors, nurses and surgeons were needed to cope with the casualties from the war. However, not all of the remaining under 18s or over 40 year-old men were happy with this. This resulted in a lot of women being bullied and intimidated in the workplace. ...read more.


All men on the other hand could vote at the age of 21. These terms only gave eight million women the vote. It was not till 1928 that women could vote on the same terms as men. In conclusion, although there were a few disadvantages for women during the war, many opportunities opened up for them and many people realised their importance in society. During the war women gained the right to vote, decent jobs and the respect and recognition they deserved. Although they gained all of these things during the war, they lost them again with the exception of the vote after the war was over. It was not till WW2 they stopped being oppressed and treated like equals, and it was not until the 1960s that women were given the same wages as men. The war just brought up the idea of equal rights for women. It did not have any lasting effects, when the war was over women were expected to go back to being humble housewives as they were before. It was a significant step for women, but only temporarily. Cara Roberts 10/11C ...read more.

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