Women in 1914 had limited employment opportunities, but World War did not initially benefit the employment of women at all; in fact women employment had decreased by 14%. Meaning that there were actually fewer women working since the outbreak of war. However, the number of women employed rose significantly from mid 1915. The government policy remained as ‘business as usual. ‘ Therefore, everything in the society is kept the same. In addition, the army was voluntary, meaning that many men remained in their factories instead of taking the risk in war.
This meant that women’s opportunities remained the same as many men remained in their work positions. The government had decided to do this because they thought the war was going to end quickly. In mid-1915, it was obvious that the war wasn’t going to end in the predicted time period, but the government still clung on to the policy of ‘business as usual. ‘ The event that put an end to ‘business as usual’ was the Great Shell Shortage. Due to the lack of ammunition in the war, Lloyd George had to increase the number of munitions factories to provide ammunition was the large army size.
This event happened together with the “The Right to Work March” where Suffragettes is trying to make the government give them better employment opportunities. The demand of vast supplies of munitions meant that more and more people were needed to supply them, and the answer was the employment of women. For the first time, women had the opportunity to take up a man’s job, and also make a contribution to war effort. For the first time, conscription in Britain was introduced, therefore, all men varying from 18 to 40 years of age had to fight in the war.
Meaning that a vast number of employed men were taken out of their work and sent to war. Without men working, the only people who could replace them were women. The demand of women workers became ever greater. The government finally realized the importance of the contributions of women could make to the war effort and they began to take up a wide range of occupations. The significance of the role of women was appreciated elsewhere. The absence of men in the society gave women a lot of new opportunities.
Women were able to work in Munitions Factories, and occupations in the society. This included bus drivers, carpenters and etc. Countryside girls joined The Land Army and took the places of farm-workers. Women were accepted into the professions. Women doctors and nurses treated wounded servicemen both in France and Italy. For the first time, women began to serve in the armed services, where they were used as nurses. Although women got better jobs and higher wages, employment aspects of women in their jobs hadn’t changed at all.
Even though women got higher wages, they were paid unequally to men. Women were also rarely promoted above men in their jobs. Women were also the ones that received the most dangerous jobs, and in addition, male workers played practical jokes on them. More unfortunate was that their contracts only lasted for a temporary basis, as men in Britain made complain about unskilled women taking over their jobs, and women therefore were forced to end their contract by the end of war.