Women Workers in the First World War: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Women Workers in the First World War

1st Edition

By Gail Braybon


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Commentators writing soon after the outbreak of the First World War about the classic problems of women’s employment (low pay, lack of career structure, exclusion from "men’s jobs") frequently went on to say that the war had "changed all this", and that women’s position would never be the same again.

This book looks at how and why women were employed, and in what ways society’s attitudes towards women workers did or did not change during the war. Contrary to the mythology of the war, which portrayed women as popular workers, rewarded with the vote for their splendid work, the author shows that most employers were extremely reluctant to take on women workers, and remained cynical about their performance. The book considers attitudes towards women’s work as held throughout society. It examines the prejudices of government, trade unions and employers, and considers society’s views about the kinds of work women should be doing, and their "wider role" as the "mothers of the race". First published in 1981, this is an important book for anyone interested in women’s history, or the social history of the twentieth century.

Companion volumes, Women Workers in the Second World War by Penny Summerfield, and Out of the Cage: Women's Experiences in Two World Wars by Gail Braybon and Penny Summerfield, are also published by Routledge.

Table of Contents

Preface 1. Women’s Position in the Labour Force before 1914 2. The Need for Women’s Labour in the First World War 3. Women in Industry: (1) The Attitudes of Employers and Trade Unions 4. Women in Industry: (2) The Economic Problems of Women’s Labour, and the Question of Equal Pay 5. Biology as Destiny: Women, Motherhood and Welfare 6. Women’s Public Image during the War 7. Demobilisation and the Aftermath 8. The Position of Women Workers in the Twenties 9. Final Comments

About the Series

Routledge Library Editions: Women's History

Reissuing seminal works originally published between 1928 and 1992, Routledge Library Editions: Women's History offers a selection of scholarship covering women's roles, gender battles, feminism and other issues through the ages. Topics include women in the World Wars, prostitution in Victorian times, the history of abortion, women's roles in the Stuart era and women's place in the household and in work.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century
HISTORY / Social History