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

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Introduction

GCSE HISTORY-. COURSEWORK ASSIGNMENT NO.1-THE IMPACT OF WAR ON BRITAIN, 1914-1918. 1. Describe the employment of women in Britain in 1914 at the outbreak of war. As war broke out in 1914 about 1/3 of women were in some type of paid employment. The majority of this was domestic service or secretarial work and most people accepted, there was no place for women in manual labour e.g. dock-labouring, mining or road -digging. A woman's role was very much as the homemaker. They were regarded as the weaker sex and the sex that had fewer rights than men. Decent women were expected to stay at home and rear the children of the family. They had to obey their husbands. Britain's leisure class was kept in comfort by an army of domestic servants. A large landowner with a wife, two children and a 62-roomed house n the West End required an indoor staff of 36. Some of the servants accompanied the family to its other homes - the country house, the seaside villa, the 'shooting box' in Scotland - each of which also had its own separate staff, containing many women. ...read more.

Middle

At the outbreak of war women earned about 65 per cent of the male wage. The employment of little errand girls, usually only 14 years of age was common. Their work was very varied - running errands, matching materials, and taking out parcels, cleaning the workrooms, and often also helping in the work of the house. To be running around doing 'odd jobs' for the employees of a busy workshop was hard work and tiring. It was not surprising that the young women in those workshops often looked weary and overdone; but there were plenty of girls to take their place, so they would not give in. Many others were employed to work on the surface of coal mines or on fish docks at hard, tiring, physical labour. A sexist outlook upon women in the workplace operated throughout this period. It resulted in skill definitions and pay differentials. Women's work was usually considered unskilled, where as a man doing the same job would be considered skilled. For example welding was perceived as a skilled job when men did it but when women became welders during the First World War it was seen as unskilled, with women being paid half the male rate. ...read more.

Conclusion

with the management or the definition of skills, which affected pay, were controlled by men and favoured them; skilled women were poorly recognised. Women were also paid piece rates and found their wage lowered if they earned too much. One factory inspector remarked that 'What can one do when a girl is earning as much as 15 shillings a week but lower the piece rate?' In a survey just before the war the social commentator and reformer, S. Rowntree, had argued that �1 a week was necessary in order to live above poverty but few women received this amount. In J.M Barrie's comedy What Ever Woman Knows (1908), John Shand, the railwayman turned MP, owes his success as a debater to his wife Maggie, who has transformed his boring speeches when she typed them up. Women had achieved some degree of marital equality and been given some educational opportunities by 1914. They had also begun to make some inroads into traditional male occupations and they had focused political action on winning the vote. 894 words ?? ?? ?? ?? Sophie Ride 01/05/07 10 Lincoln Draft number 2 01/05/07 ...read more.

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