Use Source G and your own knowledge to explain why some men opposed the employment of women in industry during the First World War.
Source G is a personal account written by a women worker, which demonstrates the prejudice that women were shown in the work place during the First World War. It describes scenes of resentment from the women’s male colleagues and made it harder for women to do a good job, “over and over again the foreman gave the wrong or incomplete directions”.
There are many reasons why some men may have opposed the work of women in industry during the First World War however I think that one of the main reasons was for fear of loosing their own jobs or receiving less pay at the end of the war because women may have done a good or better job than them in their absence.
Trade unions were one of the reasons why some men opposed the work of women in industry during the First World War. The government had to make sure that the factories could keep up with the needs of the war. Lloyd George was concerned about the issue of demarcation which was when only skilled workers could do certain jobs. Demarcation meant that there was not enough production in certain areas. In March 1915, Lloyd George developed the Treasury Agreement. This Agreement allowed specialised work could be done by semi skilled or even unskilled workers. He also promised the unions that this change was only a temporary arrangement until the end of the war. He also agreed that the workers doing the skilled jobs would be paid the same regardless if they were skilled or unskilled.
He also banned strikes and the workers could be fined for going on strike or missing days of work. If the worker wanted to leave and find a job elsewhere, they had to inform the employer and the employer had to issue them with a leaving certificate. Without this certificate they would have to wait six weeks before they could get another job. Up until this time, trade unions were mainly made up of men however in 1914 there were 357,000 female members and this increased to more than 1 million members in 1918. I think the reason why so many men opposed women working in industry is that the trade unions thought Lloyd George was trying to lower the men’s wage during the First World War.
During the First World War many men were afraid of being paid less or even loosing their jobs. They thought this because women were willing to be paid less for doing the same job as they had done. They were afraid that after the war their employers would pay them the same as the women or even give their jobs to the women. Unskilled workers were allowed do skilled workers’ jobs by the end of the war and they were afraid that this low paid work for skilled work was going to continue after the war. This idea is shown in Source G because it says “none of the men spoke to me for a long time, and would give me no help as to where to find things.
My drawer was nailed up but the men, and oil was poured over everything in it through the crack.” This suggests that the men felt threatened by the woman and wanted to make it as difficult for her as they possibly could. In source D it also shows a picture of unhappy women in the work place. It also has a board in the background that said “when the boys come back we are not going to keep you any longer girls”, suggesting that they were not wanted there and were just filling in the vacancies until the war was over and the men could return to their own jobs. I think that this is the other reason why some men opposed the work of women in industry during the First World War.
Not all men opposed the work of women during the First World War. Many men supported it as they were pleased about the effort the women made and believed that without their help there would not be enough production of munitions to feed the needs of the war. Some of the men that supported women working were the husbands of those who were employed in industry. This meant that they were bringing more money home to the family which was much needed during the First World War. Others supported it because they believed in equality for both men and women and this was a way of proving that women could do the same work as men if they were given the same opportunities.
This idea is shown in Source E where there is a poster from the government asking women to help in munitions. If women were not wanted to work they would not have advertised for their help. In Source C, which is written by an owner of a factory, he says “women prefer factory life. The children are better off than before”, this suggests that he thinks that women who worked not only helped themselves but also it helped their families. There were a lot of good things that came out of women working in industry during the First World War.
Overall there were many reasons why some men opposed the work of women in industry during the First World War but I think that fear of loosing jobs and dilution of their standards when they returned were the main reasons. Men also realised that women were doing a good thing and helping the war effort.