Women During WWI

By MaryGrace Catania

Women Having Rights

Women were already working before WWI, in textile mills and at home, but they got more job opportunities while the war was going on. Because men had gone to fight in the war, women were needed to take the place of the men in the workforce. Women had more rights than ever. Women over 30 were allowed to vote, and they had many more options for places to work.


Women took over many jobs while men were away for war. They became police officers, bus drivers, ticket collectors, carriage cleaners, porters, and worked in munitions. These conditions were very dangerous. Women had to work with TNT and other dangerous chemicals, which caused their skin to turn yellow. These workers earned the name "canaries" because of their yellow skin.

Women were able to become police officers, and they patrolled in parks, neighborhoods, and train stations, like the one pictured here. They often had jobs of keeping other women at factories disciplined, and also did checks to make sure workers were not bringing explosive materials into the factories.


Because many women were joining the workforce, there was an increasing need for childcare. There were ads placed in newspapers for housekeepers, babysitters, tutors, and more. The government eventually started to fund day nurseries for children with working parents, as shown to the left.

New Leisure for Women

With women in large groups working together, new friendships were formed. New leisure activities were formed for women during spare time. An example is football (soccer). Many munition factories created women's football teams. One is pictured to the right. These teams continued to play, until they were banned from using Football League grounds in 1921.

Change for Women Postwar

When the war was over and the men came back, they took the place of women in factories and other jobs. Women were fired, and if they were able to keep their jobs, they were paid a lot less than men, for the same job.
Kate Adie: What did WW1 really do for women? - BBC World War One

My Reaction

It was very interesting to learn about what women did during WWI. It was cool to see that they helped with the war effort too. I didn't know that women were able to work in such bad conditions at this time too. Of course, they were paid less than men, but they helped with the economy of countries in WWI, so they helped a lot. This was a cool project to do research on, and I learned many new things.