Women In World War I
From World History Wiki
What Role Did Women Play In World War I And Its Aftermath ?
Jobs For Women
Before the war
Before the World War I, women typically played the role of the homemaker. Women were judged by their beauty rather than by their ability. Their position and status were directed towards maintaining the annual duties of the family and children. These duties consisted of cleaning and caring for the house, caring for the young, cooking for the family, maintaining a yard, and sewing clothing for all. Women had worked in textile industries and other industries as far back as 1880, but had been kept out of heavy industries and other positions involving any real responsibility. Just before the war, women began to break away from the traditional roles they had played.
During The War
As men left their jobs to serve their country in war overseas, women replaced their jobs. Women filled many jobs that were brought into existence by wartime needs. As a result, the number of women employed greatly increased in many industries. In the U.S. there were, before the war, over eight million women in paid occupations. After the war began, not only did their numbers increased in common lines of work, but as one newspaper stated, “There has been a sudden influx of women into such unusual occupations as bank clerks, ticket sellers, elevator operator, chauffeur, street car conductor, railroad trackwalker, section hand, locomotive wiper and oiler, locomotive dispatcher, block operator, draw bridge attendant, and employment in machine shops, steel mills, powder and ammunition factories, airplane works, boot blacking and farming. Many of these women were married, and some were mothers whose husbands or older sons had gone to front. Women were also seen as vital resources for wartime aids, and various wartime slogans such as “You should aid nation in the war” and “Everyone has to be a helper”. This emphasized patriotism and created the environment for women’s active involvement in many industries.
After The War
On June 19th 1917, the House of Commons voted by 385 to 55 to accept the Representation of the People Bill’s women’s suffrage clause. Suffragists were astonished by the margin of support given to them by the still all-male Commons. There had been no guarantee that the bill would be passed, as government whips were not used in the vote. To try to ensure that the bill was passed, Suffragists were encouraged to contact their MP’s to support the bill. On the day that the vote was taken in the House of Commons, members of the NUWSS made sure that known supporters of the bill did not leave the House until the vote had been taken. Clearly, the strategies used by the Suffragists were important when the size of the support given to the bill is taken into account. The huge majority of 330 was to play an important part when it came to the bill moving to the House of Lords. It is generally assumed that the House of Commons was in favour of supporting the bill, as they were very appreciative of the work done by women in the First World War. The work done by women during the war was vital but its importance to the passing of the bill may have been overstated. Historians such as Martin Pugh believe that the vote in favour of female suffrage was simply a continuation of the way the issue had been moving before the war had started in 1914. In 1911 there had been a similar vote to the one in 1917. Of the 194 MP’s who voted for the bills in both 1911 and 1917, only 22 had changed their stance: 14 had changed to being in favour of female suffrage and 4 changed from being for female suffrage in 1911 to being against it in 1917. While the work of women in the war should not be understated (if only that it got some men on their side), other reasons are also important in explaining why the 1918 Act was passed. A continuation of the way things were going pre-1914 is an important factor as was the fear of social and political unrest in the aftermath of what had happened in Russia.
Jennie Lee, the daughter of James Lee, a miner. She was born in Lochgelly, Fife on 3rd November, 1904. When Jennie was three years old, James and Euphemia were persuaded to take over the management of a hotel and theatre in Cowdenbeath, that was formerly being run by Jennie's grandmother.
Mary Macarthur, the daughter of John Macarthur and Anne Martin, was born in Glasgow in 1880. The couple had six children, but only three survived, all of them girls. Mary attended the local school and after editing the school magazine, decided she wanted to become a full-time writer.
Margaret Haig Thomas was the only daughter of David Alfred Thomas and Sybil Haig, was born in 1883. Educated at Notting Hill High School, St. Andrews and Somerville College, Oxford.
Matilda Alice Powles, the daughter of a theatre manager, was born in Worcester in 1864. She made her stage debut in Nottingham at the age of three and four years later was appearing regularly as the Great Little Tilley. She added Vesta (a popular brand of matches) to her name and was billed as the goddess of fire. Vesta Tilley also began to dress as a man and by the aged of nine, and was a leading star in London.
Before World War I, women's jobs were housewives, baby sitters, and meal givers. Basically, they were maids, but treated better. As soon as the armed forces started shipping away men to go and fight for their country, women started filling in the place of men as factory workers, hair cutters, and so much more. While in the war, some women had to be nurses to take care of the wounded. So without women, the war would have taken its toll on life and we would not be where we are today.
Jobs for women were very slim before World War I, but now women can be whatever they wish to be. Back then when men were being shipped off to fight in the war, there was no one to run the city or town. So women fought for their place on this earth that is rightfully theirs. With hard work comes a reward and that is exactly what happened. Now, women can be doctors, lawyers, contractors, business owners, and so much more because of the women back then.
The role women played in the war were either nurses or factory workers to provide the weapons. Now women are factory workers, doctors, in the army, and more. The war was an opportunity for women to take their place. Women protested, supported, and fought for their place, and they succeeded.
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