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The Different Roles of Women in WW1

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Women in industry 1. What was the position of women before the war? Upper-class women did not work before the war and few worked after it. Working-class women, on the other hand, had to work to help keep their families. They worked before the war mostly in factories and in domestic services as maids. As many as 11% of all women worked as domestic servants before the war. The war gave them the chance to work in a greater variety of jobs but most of these new jobs were lost at the end of the war. Fewer married women of all classes worked. In some cases, like teaching, they had to give up their jobs once they got married. But more working-class married women worked than women from other classes. In some parts of the country and in some occupations, such as the Lancashire textile mills, they were expected to carry on working after they married. 2. Why were women workers needed in the war? Women were needed to fill the vacant jobs left by men who had gone to fight. 3. What was the government's attitude to female employment at first? When war first broke out the government was reluctant to allow women to do any of the jobs left vacant by the men who had gone to fight. ...read more.


Women were quickly recruited into traditional nursing jobs once the war had broken out. 23,000 women served as qualified nurses, some of them on the Western Front, and they had to be at least 23-years old before they would be allowed abroad. A further 80,000 volunteered to serve as nursing assistants in the Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) during the course of the war and about 8000 of these served abroad. Women in the VADs had only basic first aid training and were not paid, so they tended to come from wealthy families. 2. What does the story of Edith Cavell reveal about the dangers women faced on the front? Edith Cavell is an extreme example of how dangerous the role of nursing could be. Their closeness to the front meant that they were exposed to physical danger from enemy action. 3. What role did women play in the armed forces? From the spring of 1917 there were many jobs in the armed services which women were able to do. Women served in various sections of the armed services: the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), the Women's Royal Navy Service (WRNS) and the Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF). Here they took over the clerical and administrative jobs normally done by men. ...read more.


Getting hold of an illegal extra ration book could lead to three months imprisonment. 3. How did women ensure home life continued to function smoothly? To begin with, the government encouraged voluntary measures such as growing more food in private gardens or going without meat for one day a week. 4. Why did many women welcome rationing? Rationing was government control over people's lives on a vast scale - or at least, so it seemed. In fact, the rations laid down were generous and caused little hardship. But the queues disappeared and rationing was popular because people thought it was fairer. 5. How did women place men under pressure to sign up to fight? The White Feather Campaign began with the creation of the white feather as a symbol of cowardice and unfulfilled civic duty. With the war effort and the recruitment campaign in full swing, the women of the White Feather would present any healthy young Englishman in civilian dress with this token, in order to symbolize their scorn for him and his failure to be man. Upon receipt of a white feather, these men were being told that they weren't "real men" and that the women around them looked upon this apparent lack of masculinity with disgust. The campaign was meant to make these men question their gender identity and hopefully drive them to enlist in the military so that they could correct this perceived imbalance. ...read more.

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