Working in Industry

Working in industries proved that women were capable of work

World War Two

World war two broke out in 1936 and ended on 1945. It was fought in Europe, Russia, North Africa and Asia. World War two was fought between two groups of countries. The Axis Powers included Germany, Italy and Japan while the Allies consisted of Britain, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Russia China and the United states.

Over 60 million people died, 40 million being civilians. And everyone from every business and service was involved. Whilst the men went to fight, what did the women left behind do?

Women and World war 2

Before the war, women were expected to be the 'angels of the house' or do 'women's jobs' such as, nursing or a secretary. When Second World War broke out in 1936, women were called to fill in for the men out fighting. The government encouraged women to join in with the war effort. At the peak, there were more than 7 million women helping with the war.

Hardships of war work

Women were required by the government to work. At first, only single women aged between 20 and 30 were called, but as the war progressed, 90% of single women and 80% of married women were working in factories, on the land or fighting.

The women took over jobs that were once considered jobs for only men. They worked as mechanics, engineers, tank drivers, nurses, air raid wardens, building shells and bullets. The women helping with the war effort were well paid, but had to work long hours. The commuting long hours were monotonous and they often worked with dangerous machinery or highly explosive materials. In February 1944, trays of anti-tank mine fuses exploded, injuring 19 workers at the Royal Ordnance Factory.

'The girl working on that tray was killed outright and her body disintegrated; two girls standing behind her were partly shielded from the blast by her body, but both were seriously injured, one fatally. The factory was badly damaged: the roof was blown off, electric fittings were dangling precariously; and one of the walls was swaying in the breeze.'

Many women still had domestic commitments. Finding time to cook for their families and do household chores were often the source of complaint. The men were also not very happy with women going out to work. They could no longer expect dinner on the table and the usual warm greetings from the women they would get when they came home.

After World War Two

After the war, not all the women wanted to leave the workforce and go back to being housewives. Many women found the war experience an enriching personal experience and developed their own character and a sense of their own capability. Going back home , cooking and cleaning did not appeal to women anymore.

However, the war did not bring women equal rights as their male counterparts immediately. Women were praised for the work they did during the war, but were expected to make way for the returning troops and return to domesticity. Domestic responsibilities remained as a core value to women's lives and having a husband and a family rather than a job was what most women wanted. However, women proved to men that they were able to work and endure hardship.