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Employment Opportunities of Women in Britain at the Outbreak of War

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Employment Opportunities of Women in Britain at the Outbreak of War

The First World War brought many changes both to the position of women in society and in the ways that women thought about themselves. Pre-war, women were regarded as second class citizens. They were not even allowed to vote for their Member of Parliament or, become an MP themselves. Pre-war, most women in the working class worked in the 'sweated trade' such as hat and dress making at home. In the industrial areas of Britain e.g. the north and the midlands; women worked in factories and throughout the country. Most middle class women were employed as shop assistants or in the office; however, some middle class women that had an
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When the First World War broke out in 1914, women had to fill in jobs that men had left behind them to go and fight. More and more men went to fight in the war and by mid 1915; Britain's workforce was seriously depleted.

At first, the government were reluctant to allow women to do the jobs left vacant by the men who had gone to fight, however many people realised that women were capable of making a bigger contribution. In 1915 there was a great shortage of shells on the Western Front and this also began to change the situation. Lloyd George, the Minister for Munitions negotiated with the trade unions, and came to a deal and began to draft women into industrial employment and other jobs. It was the only way to keep up the production of weapons and necessary resources. When conscription was introduced in 1916 there was a further demand for women to fill in workplaces left by men. The government used propaganda to encourage women to work both in industry, farming and the armed services.

So by mid-1915, almost one million women were employed in huge shell making factories around Britain, however women looked down on the female factory workers. But, the workers just explained that they were willing to die for their country. The Right to Serve March was introduced in 1915 and 40,000 women went to the House of Commons to protest, the government gave
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