How Did World War I Impact Women? Ib History Hl Internal Assessment

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How Did World War I Impact Women?

Historical Investigation
Level: Higher
Candidate: Adriana Bendeck
Word Count: 1,900

A. Plan of Investigation
How Did World War I Impact Women?
As men left their old work to fill the need for soldiers, women were able, and in fact needed, to take the men’s place in the work force. The aim of this investigation is to find out the effects that World War I had on women in this period of time. The Great War changed the role of women in the workplace forever, as more and more young men volunteered or were drafted into the armed forces to fight in the war, women were called upon to fill their roles in the factories, mines and many other roles traditionally carried out by the men. This investigation will cover women in the war – in all branches, women’s role changes, as well as the effects of World War I and how these effects contributed to the change of roles of women in the workplace. Most research will be from a variety of websites, as well as several books, that not only include the Great War itself but the impact on women throughout. For example, “American Women in World War I” by Lettie Gavin, provides insightful information of women in all branches of the military as well as their jobs and tasks within the war.

B. Summary of Evidence
In the early twentieth century, a woman’s place was considered to be in the home, the school and the church.[1] However, when warfare struck, American leaders realized how women could and would provide vital aid, and thereby expanding the roles of women. When the United States declared war in 1917 and 4 million young men were drafted for the armed services, America’s labor shortage became serious. Waging all-out war in 1914 was also extremely expensive.[2]Armies on both sides needed millions of uniforms, warm jackets, leather boots, helmets, eating utensils, cots, blankets, tents, guns, and bullets in unlimited numbers, tons of food per day, ships, tanks, and a few airplanes.[3] Women had to step up. By the middle of the war women were already regarded as a force to be proud of, part of the glory of Britain. However, their entrance into the workforce was initially greeted with hostility for the usual sexist reasons and also because male workers worried that women's willingness to work for lower wages would put them out of work. [4] Women became the unsung heroes of the war, keeping the industrial wheels turning and the home fires burning.[5] Approximately 1,600,000 women joined the workforce between 1914 and 1918 in Government departments, public transport, the post office, as clerks in business, as land workers and in factories, especially in the dangerous munitions factories, which were employing 950,000 women by Armistice Day (as compared to 700,000 in Germany).[6] Although womanpower was being used in Europe, America had hesitated to use women to their advantage, except for U.S. Navy, Josephus Daniels, who recruited women as yeomen.[7] He was one of few that recognized the solution to the government’s obvious shortage of manpower. More than 11,000 females joined the Navy before the war ended, and also swarmed to Marine recruiting stations when enrollment became opened to females in August of 1918.[8] Even though the U.S. Army hesitated to allow women into their service due to enlistment laws, they finally decided to allow women to work as recruits and therefore not considered to be a part of the Army.[9] Once a part of the war, women were mainly in charge of caring for the wounded, employing new technology as telephone operators, and bravely covering the war as journalists. Several thousand skilled and patriotic U.S. nurses went to France in 1917 – 1918 to tend the sick and wounded of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF).[10] The Red Cross had been involved in the war effort from the beginning of the conflict, establishing base hospitals and recruiting nurses. Now it actively sought women...
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