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Homework. Have homework ready for inspection. ISSUE 2 – The effect of the war on life in Scotland Women. The Great War is often seen as a major turning point in the role of women in British society. You already know lots about women and war work from your British topic – look over your notes.

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  • Have homework ready for inspection
The Great War is often seen as a major turning point in the role of women in British society.
  • You already know lots about women and war work from your British topic – look over your notes.
  • Textbook pages 61-70.
recap changing role of women before ww1
Recap – changing role of women before WW1
  • Male prejudices about ‘a women’s place’ had already begun to weaken – jobs, education and local politics.
  • Suffragists.
  • Suffragettes.
recap women s war work
Recap – Women’s War Work
  • Munitions, land army, police, conductors etc.
  • Some women, such as nurses, filled more traditional jobs.
  • During the war nurses such as Mairi Chisholm became important role models for women eager to feel they were ‘doing their bit’ for the war effort.
mairi chisholm
Mairi Chisholm
  • Scottish.
  • 18 years old in 1914.
  • Joined an experimental first aid post just behind the front line in Belgium.
  • By working so close to the front line the women were in constant danger.
mairi chisholm continued
Mairi Chisholm continued…
  • Chisholm’s nursing bravery was awarded in January 1915 when the King of Belgium awarded her the Order of Leopold.
  • In March 1918, she was affected by poison gas released against troops and although Chisholm recovered and returned to her post, she was never again fully fit.
elsie inglis
Mairi Chisholm has only become well known in Scotland in recent years; much better known is Elsie Inglis, another Scot who used her medical skills to assist in the war effort.Elsie Inglis
elsie inglis continued
Elsie Inglis continued…
  • Inglis was the driving force in the creation of the Scottish Women’s Hospitals Committee that sent over 1000 women doctors, nurses, orderlies and drivers to war zones across Europe and the Balkans.
  • Inglis was also involved in setting up four Scottish Women’s Hospitals, which had much lower levels of death from disease than the more traditional military hospitals.
elsie inglis continued1
Having endured terrible conditions, capture, repatriation and also fighting against male-dominated decision-making in the UK, Elsie died of cancer in November 1917.Elsie Inglis continued…
  • The biggest increase in female employment was in the previously male-dominated engineering industry, especially the part that made munitions.
  • Before the war, fewer than 4,000 women worked in heavy industry in Scotland. By 1917 over 30,000 women were employed during the war making munitions in Scotland.
Dilution meant the fear expressed by skilled men who had served a seven-year apprenticeship that their skills would be ‘diluted’ by quickly-trained women. Those men feared that working women would threaten their skills, their status in the workforce, their wages and even their future employment.
The Ministry of Munitions introduced a dilution scheme whereby skilled jobs were broken down into individual processes. A woman could then be trained in that process and be allowed to work while under supervision. That way many women could be trained in different processes so the job was done but the status and skill of the ‘skilled man’ was not undermined.
  • The Munitions of War Act of 1915 also suggested that women should be paid comparable rates to men but that seldom happened.
rent strikes
Rent Strikes
  • The Great War made many Scots more politically aware. The people became radicalised.
  • Red Clydeside is a term used to describe the era of political radicalism that characterised the city of Glasgow.
  • The rent strikes that started in Glasgow are the perfect example of people taking direct action to change or protect their way of life.
Rent strikes were the refusal of people to pay high rents charged by landlords.
  • In February 1915, Helen Crawfurd, Mary Barbour, Agnes Dollan and Jessie Stephens helped to form the Glasgow Women’s Housing Association to resist rent rises and threatened evictions.
  • In May 1915 the first rent strike began and soon about 25,000 tenants in Glasgow had joined the strike.
why did the rent strikes start in glasgow
Why did the rent strikes start in Glasgow?
  • The shipyards and engineering factories were crucial in producing the weapons, the munitions and the machines that Britain needed to fight the war.
  • The population of Glasgow increased as people arrived to meet the demand for workers.
  • Demand for housing in and around Glasgow rocketed and so did the rents that landlords charged.
Housing conditions were often bad but landlords did little to improve their properties.
  • Rent increased by as much as 20%.
  • Landlords bullied and threatened the women to make them pay higher rents.
  • There was a strong feeling that the landlords were taking advantage of women, threatening them with eviction while their men were away fighting.
In Govan, an area of Glasgow where shipbuilding was the main occupation, the women organised an effective opposition to the rent increases.

The main figure in the movement was Mary Barbour and the protestors soon became known as “Mrs Barbour’s Army”.

Barbour went on after the war to become the first female councillor in Glasgow and a life-long campaigner for better living conditions.

Rent strikes began to spread to other Scottish cities such as Aberdeen and Dundee.
  • Landlords began to issue court orders and threaten the protestors with evictions, fines or prison.
  • In response the women made it impossible for the authorities to evict tenants, by blocking access to their tenements.
  • If the Sheriff officers managed to get as far as the entrance, another tactic was to humiliate them – pulling down their trousers was a commonly used method.
why was the government concerned about the rent strikes
Why was the government concerned about the rent strikes?
  • On 17 November 1915 a mass demonstration in George Square worried the government.
  • The rent strikes had grown to an extent that they threatened wartime production.
  • The government passed the Rent Restriction Act. Rents were frozen to 1914 levels unless improvements had been made to the property.
  • When the war ended the majority of women did not keep their new wartime jobs.
  • The Restoration of Pre-War Practices Act meant that returning soldiers were given back their jobs.
  • Within a few years of the end of the war over 25% of all working women were back in domestic service – child minding and doing housework. That total was more than before the war.