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How Far Did World War One Change the Lives of British Women?

  • Date Submitted: 09/30/2012 03:29 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 56.7 
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Before World War One, women faced many problems, and were subject to generally extremely sexist attitudes (in hindsight) by men. No gender equality existed, and men and women had very clear and different roles in society.
Firstly, they were expected to do certain things. At school, girls were taught with a big emphasis on home economics, for example, washing, ironing, cleaning and cooking. When they left school, they were generally expected to marry, and be completely obedient to their respective husbands. Their role in life was to do what they had learnt at school: be housewives and mothers. They were in essence, a possession of their husbands.
In the world of work and employment, there wasn’t much opportunity for women. Very, very few went to university, and many universities or higher education establishments even refused to award degrees to women at all, because they didn’t believe they should have access to higher academic education. Many middle class women did men’s jobs, but they got paid around half the wages of men. Normally though, they didn’t do men’s jobs. Some jobs weren’t open to women, like bank clerks and lawyers.
In Edwardian times, Britain had a clear split in society. There were three distinctive and clear social groups: the working class, the middle class and the aristocratic, land owning upper class. Possession of wealth was valued in society more than anything else. The rich stayed rich, because they passed down their money through the generations, and the poor stayed poor, because they simply couldn’t (or it was extremely difficult to) get rich due to lack of opportunity.
In the working class, women worked and generally had the same jobs as men, because they needed the money to support their lives. A popular job for women was the job of domestic servant, serving rich households; however, this job had very low pay and long hours. Working class people had bad living conditions (but not necessarily bad hygiene) and lived in narrow housing....

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