The impact of the war on women. By Mr S F Yelland King’s High School, Pontefract. Downloaded from www.SchoolHistory.co.uk. Key points Before the war, the most common employment for a woman was as a domestic servant. However, women were also employed in what were
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By Mr S F Yelland
King’s High School, Pontefract
Downloaded from www.SchoolHistory.co.uk
Before the war, the most common
employment for a woman was as a
domestic servant. However, women
were also employed in what were
seen to be suitable occupations e.g.
teaching, nursing, office work.
When war broke out in August 1914,
thousands of women were sacked
from jobs in dressmaking, millinery
and jewellery making.They needed
work – and they wanted to help the
Suffragettes stopped all militant
action in order to support the war
At first, there was much trade union
opposition and the employment of
women had not increased
significantly before the summer of
1915. In July 1915, a ‘Right to
Work’ ,march was organised by a
leading suffragette, Christabel
The shell shortage crisis in 1915
began to change the situation.
Women were taken on to work in
munitions factories. The government
did a deal with the trade unions,
known as the Treasury Agreements.
The unions agreed to accept female
labour in place of men ‘for the
duration of the war’.
The introduction of conscription in
1916 led to an increase in the
number of women employed in all
sectors of the economy.
Many women were paid good wages,
especially in munitions factories, but
in most cases they were paid lower
rates than men.
Improved wages did permit greater
independence for some women.
Women became more visible in the
world of work. They were seen to be
doing important jobs.
The armed forces also employed
women, but the jobs were mainly of
a clerical and domestic nature.
Women were in great demand for
the ‘caring’ side of employment and
became nurses in the First Aid
Nursing Yeomanry, and drivers and
clerks in Voluntary Aid Detachments.
1 Women were expected to give way to men returning from the forces and return to pre-war ‘women’s work’.
2 The assumption that ‘a woman’s place is in the home’ returned.
3 The percentage of women at work returned to pre-war levels.
4 More women than before worked in offices.
5 Shorter skirts and hair became fashionable.
6 Women went out with men without a chaperone.
7 Women smoked and wore make-up in public for the first time.
8 In 1919: being female or married was no longer allowed to disqualify someone from holding a job in the professions or civil service.