Before August 1914, women lived in a male- dominated society. It was WWI that was a crucial time for women. Women had the chance to prove that they were capable of more than cleaning, house chores and caring for their children.
Many men were off to war, resulting in job opportunities lots of openings in employment. Women started to replace men. In 1917 it was surveyed that: -68% of women changed jobs since the war began
-16% had moved out of domestic service
-22% that were unemployed in 1914 now had work
-23% had changed from one factory to another
Working class women worked mostly as maids and in factories. Middle class women were usually receptionists, teachers and nurses. Upper class women did not need to work because they were already in the upper class. This was before the war. During the war, lower class women were granted permission to work as doctors, accountants and lawyers because of the lack of men. Some of the jobs women did were unsafe, like driving trains, buses and ambulances. With women moving up in the job industry, it enable more men to go to war.
Popular jobs for women contributing directly to the war were:
-munitions factory workers
-selling war bonds, shipyards and spies
The government started to get the idea that women are capable of hard work. They wanted women to join the Land Army. “God blesses the woman who works the plough” they said. 48’000 women were labourers in the Land Army.
Before the war, the average women would make just 2 pounds a week. During WWI, women made 3-5 pounds working in factories. In 1917, women were allowed to join the forces. More than 100’000 women joined the Women’s Royal Air Force, the Women’s Royal Naval Services and the Women’s Land Army Auxiliary Corps. Women worked as mechanics in the Women’s Royal Air Force.
Overall, during WWI was a big step for women. Some jobs were short term, but in the long run more women kept their jobs even after the war was over. Eventually The Sexual Qualification Act made sure that women were no longer discriminated and enabled them to work in the same jobs as men.