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Women Revision Booklet
Changing Role of Women
Unit 2
Exam Date: 22nd May 2014
Edexcel: Unit 2 Option C, Topic C2, Unit Code 6HI02
The Changing Role of Women in Britain 1860-1930 Key Areas of the Specification as detailed by the examination board
The nature of Britain 1860: Society and how it was governed
Dominant ideologies in Victorian Britain
Changes in women’s personal lives: 1860-1901
Educating women and girls: 1860-1930
Women in public life: 1860-1901
The Suffrage Campaign: 1860-1903
The beginning of militancy: 1903-1909
The Militant Campaign: 1910-1914
Reaction to the suffrage campaigns: 1903-1914
1918 and 1928: A changed political landscape?
Opening up the world of work to women: 1901-1930
Debate and evaluation: How much change had taken place in the position of women 1860-1930?

The Examination
The exam will be 1 Hour and 20 minutes.
You will have two exam questions to complete.
Question (a) which will ask you to reach a judgement using three sources. Worth 20 marks.
Question (b) which will ask you to use the sources as well as your knowledge to answer a question on a particular historical view. For the (b) question there is a choice of two questions. Worth 40 marks. (25% of overall A level mark)

Generic Mark Scheme for Unit 2 – Changing Role of Women in Britain, 1860-1930.
Part A - Target:- A02 to analyse the sources. No own knowledge just the use of the sources. (20 Marks)
Looks at sources briefly.
Answers are usually direct quotations or paraphrasing of the sources
Understands the sources and uses them, looking at their similarities and differences in relation to the question.
Comparisons of the sources will be weak and not explained.
Sources used as a summary.
Origin of the source is noted but not commented upon the implications of it.
Understands the sources and starts to cross-reference (seeing if any sources agree/disagree with each other).
Answers will have detailed comparisons of the similarities/ differences and will be supported by evidence from the sources.
PANDA, and how PANDA effects the reliability and usefulness of the sources.
Attempt to make a judgement on ‘how far’.
Understands the sources and cross-references (seeing if any sources agree/disagree with each other).
Answers will have detailed comparisons of the similarities/ differences and will be supported by evidence from the sources.
PANDA, and how PANDA affects the reliability and usefulness of the sources.
Answers will make a judgement as to how far a source has challenged the question posed.

Part B - Target:- to analyse the sources and back up with your own knowledge. (40 Marks)
For the B questions there are two mark schemes. One mark scheme out of 24 which looks at your own knowledge and then another mark scheme out of 16 which looks at your source work.
A01 - Using your own knowledge – the ability to recall and select knowledge appropriately and write it in a clear and effective manner. Worth 24 marks.
Simple statements.
Limited factual knowledge.
Answer not focused on the question.
Lack of planning and structure.
Series of simple statements.
Answers supported by accurate and relevant own knowledge.
Answers are not explained in enough depth.
Writing will have logic but will sometimes lack organisation.
Own knowledge will be descriptive rather than analytical.
Factual knowledge will be accurate.
Possible lack of organisation of paragraphs.
Analytical answer.
Answer that focuses on the question.
Understanding of key issues shown.
Analysis supported with accurate factual knowledge that is relevant to the question.
Balanced answer.

A02 - Using the sources to back up your own knowledge – analyse how aspects of the past have been interpreted and represented. Worth 16 marks.
Understands the sources and selects information relevant to the statement in the question.
Understands the sources and selects from them in order to identify points which support or disagree with the statement in the question.
Sources will be used in the form of a summary of their information rather than detailed analysis.
Balanced answer supported by the sources.
Sources are analysed.
Balanced argument.
A judgement is being made with regard to whether you agree/disagree with the view but lacks detail.
Balanced argument
Sources analysed and cross-referenced.
Reaches a conclusion based on the sources.

Exam Papers

As well as learning the content of the course the best way to revise is to complete as many exam questions as possible.

All the exam papers and other information are on fronter and available for you to print off.

You are more than welcome to complete a paper and either email it to me (if you have typed it up) or hand it into me to mark.
My email address

The Changing Role of Women in Britain 1860 -1930: A Timeline

Why was this event significant?
Custody of Children Act
Caroline Norton
Gave mothers the right to custody of children under the age of 7, if the mother was of good character.
North London Collegiate School for ladies
Frances Mary Buss
Founded to educate lower middle class girls.
Matrimonial Causes Act
Caroline Norton
Divorces could now happen through the law courts without having to have an act of parliament. Men would have to prove his wife’s infidelity. Women her husband’s infidelity and either bigamy, rape, sodomy, bestiality, cruelty or long term desertion.
The Workhouse Visiting Society
Louisa Twining
Aimed to change attitudes to the poor and causes of poverty. An example of women leading a role in public life.
First Contagious Diseases Act

Suspected prostitutes could be forced to undergo an internal examination to check for VD.
John Stuart Mill elected

Campaigned for female suffrage. Meant that the debate was given a parliamentary platform.
The Kensington Group
Elizabeth Garret Anderson, Dorothea Beale, Frances Mary Buss, Barbara Bodichon, Emily Davies, Helen Taylor.
A group of educated women involved in furthering female education. Created the London Suffrage Committee in 1866 which began organising a petition asking parliament for female enfranchisement. Helped work with Josephine Butler to repeal the CDA.
Reform Act

Gave the vote to w/c men in towns
9 women vote in general election
Lily Maxwell
Accidentally women had been put on the electoral register in Manchester so they could vote.
First female college at Cambridge - Hitchin

Women could attend lectures (but not medicine). They could take the exams, but received a certificate, not a degree.
Formation of the Ladies National Association
Josephine Butler
Due to a proposed extension of the CDA to all prostitutes this organisation campaigned to have it repealed. It used methods that were later used by suffragists and suffragettes. (Letters, petitions, mass meetings, protest marches and targeting specific parliamentary candidates.)
Municipal Franchise Act

Allowed unmarried women ratepayers to vote in municipal elections.
‘Ugly Rush’

Punch magazine publish anti female suffrage cartoon.
First Women’s Suffrage Bill
Richard Pankhurst
Richard drafts and introduces to parliament the first women’s suffrage bill which is defeated.
Education Act

Every child had access to elementary education. Women could be elected to the School Boards.
Factory Act

Introduces a maximum 10 hour working day for women.
First Married Woman’s Property Act
Barbara Leigh Smith (Barbara Bodichon) who also formed the first Women’s Suffrage Committee in 1866.
Allowed married women to keep up to £200 in earnings and personal property.
First women elected to be on the Poor Law boards.

Women became guardians of the poor houses.
Introduction of telephone exchange.

More jobs available to women, particularly in the Post Office.
Education Act

Elementary education made compulsory
Women’s Liberal Association formed

Supporting role to Liberal Party – canvassing, leafleting. The parties needed the organisational skills of these female organisations because of the increased male electorate. And because they worked voluntarily.

Growth of jobs for women
Second Married Women’s Property Act

Allowed married women to control all property and money they brought with them into the marriage. Could carry on trade/business.
Primrose League established

Support the Tories.
Reform Act

Gave the vote to 2 men in every 3.
Women receive independent legal status.

No longer are they seen as belonging to their husband.
Age of consent raised from 13 to 16.

In order to stop child prostitution.
Repeal of the CDA
Josephine Butler
Victory of the Ladies National Association.
Strike at Bryant and May’s match factory
Annie Besant

An Appeal

100 mostly title women appeal against female suffrage.
The Jackson Case

Using the Matrimonal Causes Act (1884) which denied a husband the right to lock up his wife if she refused to have sex with him, the judge interpreted the law (case law) and said that Mr Jackson could not compel his wife to live with him.
Local Government Act

Gave married women the right to vote in local elections and allowed women to stand as councillors.
Second Women’s Suffrage Bill
Faithfull Begg MP
Bill is presented and for the first time it wins a majority in a parliament vote.
Balfour’s Education Act

Poor children had access to secondary education. Grammar schools selected people based on ability, not class. 25% grammar school places filled with poor girls.
WSPU founded
Emmeline Pankhurst

Daily Mail nicknames WSPU members ‘suffragettes’

Women’s Suffrage Bill carried
Carried by 139 votes but Asquith refused to support it and so the bill failed.
Militant action began

Women chained themselves to railings for the first time. Beginning of organised heckling of Cabinet ministers. ‘Women’s Sunday’ organised by WSPU. First window smashing.
Women’s National Anti-Suffrage League formed
Lady Jersey, Mrs Humphrey Ward

Force feeding of hunger striking suffragettes

Gained WSPU more pubilicity.
10% of married women in paid employment.

First conciliation bill carried

All militant activity was stopped to support the bill. But fell because the government failed to give it parliamentary time. (Liberals had to give time to The Irish Question because they relied on the support of the Irish Nationalists).
‘Black Friday’

A direct result of the failure of the conciliation bills and the lack of reform. Police accused of using violence against women. Police deny this and accuse suffragettes of troublemaking.
Amendment to Franchise ruled out by speaker.

Asquith promised to pass a reform bill which would enfranchise all men and would include an amendment, but the speaker through it out.
Emily Davison dies at the Derby

WSPU make her a martyr.
‘Cat and Mouse’ Act

Permitted authorities to release hunger strikers when they became too weak and rearrest them once they had recovered.

WSPU suspend all militant activities. Women take on a wide range of jobs previously considered to be exclusively male.
Reform Act

All men and women over the age of 30 got the vote.
Sex Disqualification Act

Gave women the right to become jurors, magistrates and barristers, and to enter the higher ranks of the civil service. It also removed legal barriers to women becoming graduates of Oxbridge.
Infanticide Act

Removed the charge of murder from mothers who kill their infant children, thus recognising that some women were medically depressed after birth.
Matrimonial Causes Act

Allowed women to divorce on the same grounds as men.
Pensions Act

Gave widows, orphans and old age contributory pensions act provided a pension for widows of insured men.
Universal Suffrage

Equal terms for men and women over 21.

‘Leap in the Dark’ – A phrase used about the 1867 Reform Act as no one knew what impact 700,000 skilled workers would have on the House of Commons.
Act – A law made in parliament.
Antis – People who were opposed to women gaining the vote.
Bill – Before an act is made law it is introduced into the House of Commons as a bill to be debated by MP’s
Coalition Government – when two government’s come together to run the country.
Conciliation Bills of 1910 – when women attempted to get the vote but the two bills failed to get past the House of Commons.
Conservative Party – Traditional party, more often supported by upper class.
Democracy – an electoral system in which every adult has a vote.
East London Federation of Suffragettes – originally part of the WSPU until expelled by Christabel Pankhurst in 1914, supported by Sylvia Pankhurst.
Education Act 1870 – Established school boards that had the authority to build schools from money collected from local taxes. Women could vote for and serve on School Boards.
Education Act of 1902 – Abolished school boards and set up Local Education Authorities, which were given the power to establish secondary schools. Women were not allowed to vote or serve on these.
Enfranchised – given the vote.
Feminist – someone who believes that men and women should be treated equally.
Franchise – the right to vote.
Great Reform Act of 1832 – This gave the vote to approximately one in seven men.
House of Commons – The Lower house of Parliament, in which MP’s are elected in to represent the people.
House of Lords – The upper house of Parliament, usually made up very wealthy members and often hereditary peers. This means they get to be a lord because their father before them had been one and when they die it passes down to the next in the family.
Householders – Those who lived at a permanent address and paid taxes on their home.
Labour party – first real party for the people.
Ladies National Association – An organisation for women founded in 1869 to repeal unjust laws for prostitutes. Today it is known as the Josephine Butler Society and continues to campaign against the exploitation of prostitutes.
Liberal Party – Only real opposition to Conservative party, less traditional.
Married Women’s Property Acts – 1870 Act gave women the right to keep their earnings, their personal property and money under £200 left to them in someone’s will. The 1882 Act gave women control of money they brought into the marriage and acquired afterwards.
MP – Member of Parliament
NUWSS – National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. Founded in 1897, known as suffragists, they favoured more peaceful methods.
NUWW – National Union of Women Workers mainly set up to support women who worked in charity organisations.
Primrose League – Founded in 1883 to spread Conservative ideas. A women’s section was formed in 1885.
Reform – to change something.
Second Reform Act 1867 – This gave the vote to approximately one in three men.
Sexual double standard – the moral standard whereby it was acceptable for me, but not women to have sex outside the marriage.
Speakers Conference 1916 – when it was realised that they had to amend the electoral register due to the amount of men who had been away fighting in the war but hadn’t had the vote. Also the point at which they thought it as a good time to let some women vote. Women over the age of 30.
Suffrage – Right to vote.
Suffragettes – women who sought the vote using violent methods.
Suffragists – women who sought the vote using peaceful methods.
The suffragette – A WSPU newspaper published between 1912 and 1915.
Third Reform Act 1884 – This gave the vote to approximately two in three men.
United Suffragists – Founded in 1914 and open to men and women, militant and non-militants. In 1914 votes for women became its official paper, which it published until 1918.
WSPU – Women’s Social and Political Union – founded in 1903 by Emmeline Pankhurst to campaign for votes for women. Known as suffragettes, they used violent methods.
Unit 2 C2: Britain , c. 1860-1930; The Changing Position of Women and the Suffrage Question

A: The changing personal status of women

Introduction: Women’s status in the mid-nineteenth century

In 1850, a husband and wife were considered to be one person.
All of a woman’s income and property became her husband’s on marriage and any income or property she acquired after marriage also became her husband’s.
A woman could not be the legal guardian of her own children. If a marriage broke down, and parents separated, a woman could only look after children under the age of seven.
Divorce was all but impossible on any grounds. Divorce cases were heard in ecclesiastical courts, which considered marriage to be a sacrament. In 1857, there were only three petitions for divorce.
An alternative was to seek a divorce through a private Act of Parliament; there had been some 300 of these since the seventeenth century.
In effect, legally, women did not exist. Until marriage a woman was subject to her father and after marriage she was subject to her husband. The treatment received depended entirely on the personality of her father or spouse.
Only unmarried, adult women had any legal rights
In 1855, the legal status of women was summed up by Caroline Norton in a pamphlet addressed to Queen Victoria:
1. a married woman has no legal existence whether or not she is living with her husband;
2. her property is his property;
3. she cannot make a will, the law gives what she has to her husband despite her wishes or his behaviour;
4. she may not keep her earnings;
5. he may sue for restitution of conjugal rights and thus force her, as if a slave to return to his home;
6. she is not allowed to defend herself in divorce;
7. she cannot divorce him since the House of Lords in effect will not grant a divorce to her;
8. she cannot sue for libel;
9. she cannot sign a lease or transact business;
10. she cannot claim support from her husband, his only obligation is to make sure she doesn't land in the parish poorhouse if he has means;
11. she cannot bind her husband to any agreement.
In short, as her husband, he has the right to all that is hers; as his wife she has no right to anything that is his.
Queen Victoria ignored the pamphlet.


A woman’s education was decided by her father. Most middle class women were educated by tutors.

Whilst there were many women (such as the Bennett girls in ‘Pride and Prejudice’) who enjoyed a liberal and wide education, there were far more for whom education was preparing for running a household.
Girls from working class families were educated after the 1833 Factory Act banned children under the age of nine, but because many schools charged minimal fees many parents would often educate sons rather than daughters.

Why did change take place?

1792: Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman in which she wrote that women should have the same rights as men.
1832: campaign, led by the radical, Henry Hunt, to have women included in the terms of the 1832 Reform Act
Women were also actively involved in the Chartist movement of the 1830s and 1840s.
1866: a committee of women suffrage campaigners was set up to petition parliament to include votes for women in the Reform Bill of that year.
In the following year it became known as the London National Society for Women’s Suffrage.
Other local societies were set up in Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Bristol. By 1872 the various groups merged into the National Society for Women’s Suffrage (NUWS).
Improved educational opportunities for middle-class girls created educated, middle class women were increasingly frustrated with their second class position.
There were female links with politics, for example Millicent Fawcett was married to a Liberal minister, Henry Fawcett.
Langham Place became the headquarters for a group of middle class women campaigning for issues such as changes in the divorce law and improved educational and career opportunities.
Support from two prominent male politicians especially John Stuart Mill who campaigned for the inclusion of votes for women in the Reform Bill of 1867 and wrote an influential pamphlet called The Subjection of Women in 1868.
The extension of the franchise to working-class men, in the towns in 1867 and the countryside in 1884, stimulated a growing campaign by middle class women for female suffrage.

Legal changes to the status of women

The Matrimonial Causes Act, 1857, modernised the law on divorce, moving litigation from the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts to the civil courts.
Marriage was now based on a contract rather than a sacrament; it widened the availability of divorce beyond the privileged few.
The Act created a new Court of Divorce and Matrimonial Causes and gave it jurisdiction to hear and decide civil actions for divorce.
While this Act provided women with a means of escape from an unhappy marriage, the husband was still the more important partner.
The Act allowed a husband to divorce his wife on the grounds of adultery, but a wife needed to prove adultery and one other cause, such as cruelty or desertion.
A woman therefore had to prove two causes, while a man only had to prove one.
1873, the Custody of Infants Act gave all women the right to access custody of children up to age 16, and adulteresses could petition for custody after a divorce.

Previously, the 1839 Act had limited access to women of ‘unblemished character.
After the 1878 Matrimonial Causes Act, women could secure a separation on the grounds of cruelty and to claim maintenance and custody of children.
Magistrates were authorised to provide protection orders to wives whose husbands had been convicted of aggravated assault.
The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1884 allowed a wife deserted by an adulterer to petition for divorce immediately, rather than waiting two years, as previously required.
In 1886, the Guardianship of Infants Act stipulated that the mother automatically got custody of children if the father died.

The Married Women’s Property Act, 1870
Unmarried women had complete control over property and income, but once a woman married, all control was lost and income and property became her husband’s.
The 1870 Act made several important changes for married women.
The wages and earning made by a woman were to be held by her for own separate use independently from her husband. This section also covered investments made with the money earned.
A woman was allowed to keep any property she inherited from her next of kin as her own subject to that property not being bound in a trust. She could also inherit money up to £200.
This was an important step forward, but it allowed women to keep possession only of their earnings and to inherit personal property and small sums of money; everything else, whether acquired before marriage or after, belonged to the husband.

The Married Women’s Property Act 1882
This Act gave married women the same rights to buy, sell, and own property as unmarried women had always had. This meant that women could now retain financial independence after marriage.
An amendment in 1884 meant that a woman was considered an independent and separate person and not a ‘chattel’ of her husband after marriage

Changes to the ‘angel in the house’ concept
In 1891, women gained the right to live apart from their husbands. This would have been very difficult before the changes to the law relating to property.
The change was the result of the decision in the Court of Appeal in the Jackson Marriage Case, better known as the Clitheroe Case.
In 1888, Mrs. Jackson of Clitheroe refused to live with her husband when he returned from Australia.
In 1898, he obtained a degree which ordered her to restore his conjugal rights, but she refused to take any notice.
In 1891, he kidnapped her leaving church and held her captive in his house at Blackburn. Her friends tried to obtain a writ of Habeas Corpus, but two judges refused on the grounds that the detention was not illegal.
The case went to appeal and judgment went in favour of Mrs Jackson. The Lord Chancellor and two other Appeal Court judges declared that a husband had no right to demand his wife live with him if she refused to do so.

The work of Josephine Butler
The 1864 Contagious Diseases Act had allowed the police to arrest prostitutes and force them to undergo a medical test for venereal disease. They could then be confined in hospital until cured

This was an attempt to control of outbreaks of disease in towns with a military garrison. However, it only applied to men. Two further Acts extended police powers in 1866 and 1869.
Josephine Butler began her campaign in 1869 and toured attacking the Acts and eventually helped bring about repeal in 1886.
In 1885, she also campaigned against child prostitution and succeeded in passing the Criminal Law Amendment Act which raised the legal age of consent from thirteen to sixteen.

B: Women’s changing role in the political system

Participation in local government
In 1870s women began to play a more important role in local government in Britain.
The 1869 and 1882 Municipal Councils Acts both allowed women to vote in council elections.
Women would also vote in election for School Boards from 1870 and for Boards of Health from 1875 and in elections to the London County Council from 1889.
The local government acts of 1894 and 1899, which set up district and borough councils, also included women as voters.
There was no evidence that women voting did any harm to local democracy, but opponents of women’s suffrage were able to stop any further progress.
By 1900, there were about 1 million women who could vote in local government elections.
In the first elections for the London County Council, Lady Sandhurst stood and was elected for Brixton. Her opponent objected to her election on the grounds that she was a woman.
The Returning Officer overruled the objection, but the case then went to court. The judge decided that Lady Sandhurst could not take her place. Despite an appeal, the decision stood.
Although all of the Acts specifically stated that women could vote, none of them stated that women could be elected.
It was not until 1907 that an act was passed that allowed women to sit on county councils and borough councils.
By the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, there were more than 3,000 women sitting on councils, local boards and acting as Poor Law Guardians.

Women in national politics
By the 1880s many women were actively involved, at constituency level, with the two main political parties.
In 1883, the Conservatives formed the Primrose League and four years later, the Liberals set up the Women’s Liberal Federation. Women had more time to do the voluntary campaigning at local level.
By the turn of the century more and more male politicians were becoming more sympathetic to the idea of limited votes for women.

Origins and impact of the suffragist and suffragette campaigns
The NUWSS was run in a democratic way with committees and a chairwoman to prepare women for when they would actually choose their MPs.

Their main aims was to use peaceful tactics that would persuade the general public and parliament that women ought to have the vote because they could act in a responsible and sensible way.
They achieved publicity through their newspaper, The Common Cause, and organised marches and petitions.
In 1910, they raised a petition of 280,000 signatures. Four years later, they arranged a ‘pilgrimage’ with women marching on London from several different directions and meeting in London on 26 July.
From 1909 there was a large increase in membership of the NUWSS. Martin Pugh believes this was because it allowed women to express their support for the vote while, at the same time, showing their disapproval of suffragette tactics.
The number of NUWSS branches rose from 33 in October 1907 to 478 in February 1914.
In 1912 the NUWSS made a pact with the Labour Party under which the woman’s organisation set up an electoral fighting fund and pledged itself to support Labour candidates in elections where they were fighting against known opponents of women’s suffrage.
Through this pact the NUWSS became involved in a number of by-elections between 1912-14 in which the Liberals lost a number of seats.

The Women’s Freedom League (WFL)

This was set up by Charlotte Despard in 1907. She had been a member of the WSPU but believed they had become too violent.
It soon had 64 branches throughout Britain and used tactics half-way between the peaceful methods of the NUWSS and the militancy of the WSPU.
Members took part in marches and organised petitions but were prepared to break the law as long as it did not lead to violence.
In 1911 members refused to take part in the census using the slogan ‘No vote, No Census.
From 28 October 1909, WFL members chained themselves to the railings outside the House of Commons and picketed the members. A total of 3,000 hours were spent picketing in all weathers.
They also picketed Downing Street and were arrested and imprisoned. Others chained themselves to the ‘grille’ of the ‘ladies gallery’ in the House of Commons.
They refused to pay taxes arguing that they were not represented in parliament.
Muriel Matters, a member of the WFL, hired an airship and flew over the Houses of Parliament throwing out carrots and propaganda leaflets.
The WFL certainly gained much publicity for votes for women. Unfortunately, many saw their actions as irresponsible and it convinced many men and some women that women were not ‘sensible’ enough to deserve the vote.


The Women’s Social and Political Union, known as the suffragettes, was set up in Manchester in Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, Christabel and Sylvia.
Emmeline’s husband, Richard, had been involved in the establishment of the Women’s Franchise League. Emmeline became an active member of the Independent Labour Party.

In 1903 Emmeline left the ILP, disillusioned with its half-hearted approach to women’s suffrage. She wanted an organisation which would concentrate exclusively on votes for women.
Emmeline also believed in more militant methods. She argued that the peaceful persuasion of the suffrage societies had achieved very little and that these societies were in decline in the later nineteenth century.
This claim was mainly suffragette propaganda and was not justified. The NUWSS was set up in 1897 whilst some women gained the vote in local elections.
Emmeline realised that only a government-sponsored suffrage bill had any chance of success. WSPU tactics were to pressurise the government into such a bill.
In 1905 the WSPU moved to London and with their tactics aimed at the Liberals who won a landslide victory in the general election of 1906.

WSPU methods and tactics

These changed and became more extreme during the period of 1905 to 1914.
From 1905 to 1908 the emphasis was on marches, rallies and pestering Liberal candidates at elections. This began in October 1905 when Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst were arrested after interrupting a Liberal free trade meeting.
Such tactics did little to convert the Liberal Government who argued that the suffragettes only represented a small proportion of women.
From 1908 to 1910 the suffragettes began to throw stones at the windows of Downing Street and London clubs. They ambushed Cabinet Ministers and sometimes attacked them.
Suffragette activity was called off during 1910-11 while the Liberal government tried to pass Conciliation Bills.
From 1912, they began their ‘terrorist campaign, which led to moderates, such as the Pethwick-Lawrences leaving the movement.
Emmeline Pankhurst directed suffragette cells to carry out a wave of arson attacks across the country.

In what ways did the WSPU succeed?
In 1914 women still did not have the vote. Few historians believe that their campaign was a success and that the role of the Pankhursts has been exaggerated. Yet the WSPU did have some successes.
Militancy brought publicity and more support.
The anti-suffragists were forced to become more organised in order to counter the propaganda and impact of the suffragette campaign.
For example, a National League for Opposing Woman Suffrage was founded in 1911. It attracted women in its work.
There was a series of suffrage bills in the period 1908-11. Votes for women was back on the political agenda.
The apparent success of the WSPU forced the NUWSS into a more active role and membership increased.

In what ways did the WSPU fail?
In many ways the activities of the suffragettes were counter-productive.
The violence of 1912-14 appears to have alienated public opinion. Moderate opinion was shocked by the extreme actions of the suffragettes.

The WSPU did not win over the leading Liberals such as Asquith. Indeed their harassment of leading ministers turned many against women’s suffrage.
They made it very difficult for Asquith to give way as this might set an unfortunate precedent for other pressure groups. Violence and militancy might be seen as a legitimate means of forcing reform.
Suffragette tactics also lost the support of many MPs. Suffrage bills before 1908 had usually achieved majorities on their second readings. The 1912 Conciliation Bill was defeated by a small majority.

Why did WSPU not achieve more?
Their tactics alienated allies. One example was Lloyd George who supported votes for women but was subjected to heckling and harassment.
The leadership of the WSPU was too dictatorial. Emmeline and Christabel demanded absolute obedience to their instructions and allowed little or no discussion.
This style of leadership led to divisions and splits in the WSPU. In 1907, Charlotte Despard and others left to set up the Women’s Freedom League.
Five years later Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence left to form the United Suffragists.
In 1913, Sylvia was expelled by her sister, Christabel, because she set up the democratically run East London Suffrage Association.
Militancy itself became more of an issue than female suffrage. It divided public opinion and, in many respects, was self-defeating.
Each act of militancy had to be more extreme than what had gone before. Violence played into the hands of the anti-suffragists who argued that it showed that women were not responsible or law-abiding enough to deserve the vote.
The suffragettes also did not have a clear idea of what exactly they wanted. Emmeline Pankhurst just wanted the vote for some women.
She would have accepted the vote on the same terms as men. This would have excluded many working class women. Others wanted the vote for all women.

Differing views about the reasons for Suffragette failure
Some historians such as Liddington and Norris argue that membership of the WSPU was confined almost exclusively to upper and middle-class women.
The suffragettes failed to attract working class support. This view, however, has been questioned by Paula Bartley and June Hannam who point out that there were leading, working class members of the WSPU such as Annie Kenney.
The WSPU also built up strong branches in working class areas of London. Indeed many of the activitists who were arrested and went on hunger strike were working-class women.

The impact of the First World War on the suffrage question
In August 1914 Emmeline Pankhurst called off the militant campaign. She was instinctively patriotic and very conservative in many ways
The government immediately ordered the release of all Suffragettes held in prison. There were more than one thousand.
In 1914 Queen Mary organised a campaign to encourage women to knit socks and scarves for the soldiers.
A group of women, led by Elsie Inglis, volunteered to go to France and work as nurses, but they were turned down by the army.

Officially the war was being fought by men. In March 1915, Asquith, the prime minister, went on a nationwide speaking tour to urge support for the war effort; women were not admitted to any of the meetings.

Why did the situation change in 1915?

The turning-point came in May 1915, when the army in France suddenly found itself very short of shells – the Great Shell Shortage
David Lloyd George was appointed Minister for Munitions and began immediately to increase the production of weapons and ammunition.
In July 1915, the Suffragettes, led by Christabel Pankhurst organised a Right to Work March in London. 30,000 women took part.
By the end of 1915, 2,500,000 men had volunteered for the army.
New factories opened to produce planes, weapons and ammunition.
Munitions work could be very dangerous and very unpleasant. But many women gave up their jobs as domestic servants for the wages (£3.00 a week) in munitions factories.

Other occupations
In transport, Glasgow municipal tramways were the first to employ female conductresses in 1915. By 1917 about 2500 women were employed as conductresses on trams and buses.
Conscription, in 1916, took more men away from employment and necessitated greater use of female labour.
By 1916 most police forces had established women’s divisions.
Female police officers were being given greater responsibilities including controlling crowds during air raids and discouraging indecent behaviour in cinemas and parks.
The First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) was used as nurses.
The Voluntary Aid Detachments (VAD) were used as drivers and secretaries.
In January 1917 the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps was set up, followed by the Women’s Royal Naval Service and the Women’s Royal Air Force.
In the countryside, 11,000, girls joined The Land Army.
Women began to work in the developing motor car industry as mechanics or drivers and found work in the aeroplane industry. Many women painted the canvas covering of the planes with varnish.
Elsewhere in the economy, women also took over many clerical jobs in banks and began to work as postal workers and on buses as conductresses.
In 1918, the government compiled a list of all of the occupations that women had taken over during the war; it ran to twenty-eight pages of foolscap.
Herbert Asquith, the prime minister from 1908 to 1916, said that the war could not have been won without the efforts of women workers. He had opposed giving the vote to women before the war. This was one reason why they got the vote for the first time in February1918.

The significance of the loss of the household suffrage
In 1916 a new register of voters was compiled. The government realised that many men who had served in the war were no longer able to vote.
All of the volunteers and conscripts had lost their property qualification, as they had not been resident in the country.

Men got the vote because they had been conscripted during the war and forced to fight and die for their country.
It would have looked very unfair if men who had fought for their country had lost the right to vote.
A special clause in the Representation of the People Act (1918) actually allowed men aged 18 and over to vote in the December 1918 general election if they had served in the armed services during the war.

C: Attitudes of politicians, Parliament and the public to the suffrage question

Traditional male attitudes were of ‘separate spheres’ with the female sphere in the home and away from politics.
The Liberal leader, William Gladstone, had typified this view as did many working class men and their unions.
There was also the problem of which women to give the vote to. In 1884, 40% of adult men did not qualify for the vote. The suffragists campaigned for limited female suffrage – the right to vote for women householders or ratepayers.
This, in turn, alienated potential working class support. The suffragists were seen as elitist and did not appeal to working class men and women.
There were divisions within the two leading political parties. The majority of MPs who supported women’s suffrage were Liberal but Gladstone and other leading Liberals feared that many women householders would vote Conservative.
Conservative leaders such as Balfour and Bonar Law supported votes for women but the majority of backbenchers did not.
The newly formed Labour Party, set up in 1900, was supportive but could only muster 29 MPs in 1906.
Many women became involved in the political work of the two parties and became distracted from the issue of women’s suffrage.
After 1886 British politics was dominated by the issue of Home Rule. This in turn split the Liberal Party and led to twenty years of domination by a Conservative Party unwilling to make major changes.
In 1890 Lydia Becker, the most important leader of the suffrage movement, died.
The methods used by the suffragist societies came under increasing criticism in the 1890s. Such methods had been designed to demonstrate the respectability and moderation of the movement.

Changes 1890-1903

Every year in the 1890s and early 1900s there were Private Members Bills in support of votes for women. However, they were often ‘talked out’ usually by Conservative MPs.
In 1893, women in New Zealand were allowed to vote for the first time.
In 1894, a petition for votes for women gained 250,000 signatures.
In 1897 the House of Commons voted in favour of votes for women with a majority of seventy-one. The Bill, like all before it, got no further, but it seemed to suggest that the vote for women was achievable in the near future.
Arthur Balfour, the Conservative Leader of the House of Commons and later Prime Minister from 1902-05, admitted that the next reform of Parliament would have to include votes for women.

The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies was set up in 1897 by Millicent Fawcett. It was made up of 16 separate groups linked together in a federal structure.
The emergence of the ‘radical suffragist’ movement brought votes for women to the forefront. Many women became involved in trade unions and early socialist groups, campaigning for improved health care and education for working class children, or for an eight-hour day.
They saw the vote as a means to social improvement and demanded ‘womanhood suffrage’. Such involvement brought greater experience in public speaking and propaganda. For example some ‘radical suffragists’ wrote articles for the socialist newspaper The Clarion.

The attitude of the Labour Party
Labour politicians had mixed reactions to women’s suffrage.
Some Labour MPs were opposed because they felt that the movement was dominated by the middle class and did not reflect the interests of the working classes.
After the 1906 general election there was little support from the Labour Party for votes for women
Partly because the aim of the suffragettes was for ‘equal franchise’ (the vote on the same basis as men) rather than ‘universal suffrage’, which would have given all men the vote.
Ramsay Macdonald was alienated by the militancy of the WSPU and withdrew support. Consequently, Emmeline Pankhurst cut her links with the Labour Party as a result.
But the ILP and the leading Independent Labour MP, Keir Hardie, supported votes for women. Indeed Keir Hardie was a close friend of the Pankhursts and backed their militant tactics.
In the period 1912-14 there was close co-operation between the Labour Party and the NUWSS.

The Conservative Party
It is too simplistic to suggest that the rank and file members and MPs were anti-suffrage and some of the leading Conservatives supported votes for women.
Martin Pugh shows that, on seven occasions between 1887 and 1910, the National Union of Conservative Associations voted in favour of women’s suffrage.
The Primrose League also encouraged support for women’s suffrage.
Nevertheless key members of the Anti-Suffrage League were leading Conservatives such as Lord Cromer and Lord Curzon.

The Liberal Party

How did the Liberals attempt to deal with the WSPU
Increasingly, from 1908, Liberal ministers were subject to suffragette attacks.
At a meeting in Birmingham two Suffragettes climbed on to the roof of a nearby building and threw slates through the glass roof of the hall.
The police tried to dislodge them with fire hoses, but eventually caught them after a chase across roof tops.
Later in the year Asquith was ambushed while he was playing golf and many of his speeches were interrupted.
Lloyd George was also picked on over and over again. On one occasion a Suffragette managed to lock herself in his car with him and lectured him until his driver managed to open the door.

Churchill also met abuse and attacks, but was rather better at dealing with them. When a Suffragette attempted to whip him in Bristol, he managed to get the whip off her.
The government responded from 1909 by longer jail sentences and suffragettes retaliated with hunger strikes.
The authorities responded with force-feeding, which, in turn, provided even greater sympathy and publicity.
The problem was that the Liberals were divided over the issue of women’s suffrage. Lloyd George and Churchill favoured giving women the vote, but Asquith appeared to be against.
In 1910, a compromise was suggested and suffragette activity was suspended when the government offered to introduce legislation to give women the vote. It was intended to be a cross-party initiative.

MPs from all parties joined the ‘Conciliation Committee’, which then produced the Conciliation Bill. This was a compromise that was intended to give some women the vote.
There were only two main clauses in the Bill. The first would give the vote to all women who owned a house, part of a house or just a room.
The only condition was that they must have complete control over it. This meant that a husband and wife could not both vote if they lived in the same house.
The owners of shops would also be able to vote, providing their premises were worth at least £10 a year in rent.
These were strange conditions and would have meant that almost all working women would be left without the vote.
The Conciliation Bill was supported by the WSPU. The Suffragettes were only interested in getting the vote. If that meant that some women would and some would not, they were prepared to accept that.
They believed that there was a principle at stake and that was more important than universal suffrage.
But the Bill was attacked by Lloyd George and Churchill, amongst others. They believed that the Bill would play into the hands of the Conservative Party by creating many more Conservative voters.
In the end the Conciliation Bill passed its Second Reading by a majority of 299 votes to 189, but then, like all of the others, got no further. The government refused to make time available for it in the House of Commons.
The crisis between the Commons and the Lords led to a second general election in December 1910. The results were very similar to those of January.
Immediately after the election the Conciliation Committee was reformed and a second Conciliation Bill was produced.
This suffered the same fate as the first. It won a majority of 167 in the Commons, but then got no further.
Asquith promised that in the next session of Parliament he would introduce a bill in favour of adult suffrage. An amendment would then be introduced giving the vote to women. This would be the Franchise and Redistribution Bill
Asquith’s proposal was attacked by the WSPU. Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst both condemned it as betraying women.
The reason for their opposition was that they wanted women to be given the vote on their own, rather than have it tacked on to a bill in favour of men.

The result was a new outbreak of violence by the Suffragettes. Only a few days later, the WSPU organised a rally outside the Houses of Parliament, which ended in a fight with the police.
200 women were arrested, including Emmeline Pethwick-Lawrence. Emily Wilding Davison also invented a new form of militancy in December 1911, when she set light to letterboxes by dropping rags soaked with paraffin into them. But the real campaign began in the New Year.
The Suffragettes smashed the windows of property in the West End stores of London and carried out arson attacks on buildings.
They set fire to the country houses of Cabinet ministers, attacked golf courses with acid and setting fire to pillar-boxes. Asquith and colleagues were assaulted.
In 1913, Emily Wilding Davison was killed when she threw herself in front of the King’s horse at the Derby.
Many more suffragettes were arrested and went on hunger strike. The government responded, in 1913, with the Prisoners Temporary Discharge Act (Cat and Mouse Act).
This allowed hunger strikers to be released on licence if their health was threatened and then re-arrested if their health improved.
Other violence included slashing works of art in art galleries, pouring acid on golf greens, cutting telegraph wires and destroying plants at Kew gardens.
By 1914, the issue was unresolved. WSPU militancy had lost support and there was only a hard-core of some 4,000 suffragettes
Emmeline Pankhurst’s decision to call off the campaign let the government off the hook, but Christabel Pankhurst maintained a militant stance; she continued to edit ‘The Suffragette’ and also campaigned for the ‘Right to Work’.

Votes for women
In 1918 all men got the vote at 21 and women got the vote at 30. But women had to be householders or married to a householder.

Why did women get the vote in 1918?
The government had to review the electoral system which insisted that males could only vote if resident in constituency for at least 12 months if they were lodgers, or six months if they were householders.
A new register of voters was drawn up in 1916.
Many servicemen had lost their residential qualification because of war service. This was clearly unfair. The franchise and registration needed to be reviewed and changed.
By 1916 there was a change of climate and much greater support for votes for women. The old argument that women did not deserve the vote because they could not fight for their country was destroyed.
Wartime coalition governments included pro-suffrage politicians such as Arthur Henderson and Lloyd George.
In 1916, the NUWSS began to lobby Asquith for the inclusion of female suffrage in any changes to the electoral system.
Asquith referred the question of electoral reform to an all-party committee of MPs under the chairmanship of the Speaker. The Speaker’s Conference produced its report in January 1917.
It proposed a more simplified franchise system based on residence alone and that ‘some measure of woman suffrage should be conferred’.
The government was also anxious to avoid a recurrence of suffragette activity. Christabel Pankhurst had continued to publish ‘The Suffragette’ during the war years.

There was an implied threat that actions could restart if the government did not act to give women the vote.
At the last minute the government realised that although women had been given the vote, they had not been given the right to stand to be MPs.
The Eligibility of Women Act was rushed through Parliament in November 1918, which allowed women to stand for Parliament.
Despite the changes, women were only given the vote under the old household franchise. Some people regarded this as an experiment.
Altogether 6,000,000 women out of 13,000,000 gained the vote in 1918

Why did women not get the vote on equal terms with men?
Male prejudice ensured older age qualification. Belief that many women in their twenties, flappers, were less mature and incapable of making sound political judgements.
If adult women got the vote they would outnumber their male counterparts.
Single women who had done most to help during the war were discriminated against.
The NUWSS accepted the age bar for women on the grounds that once women had the chance to exercise the vote the prejudice against younger women would disappear.

The impact of female suffrage
In December 1918, only one woman was elected, Countess Markiewicz, who was elected for Sinn Fein in South Dublin. Along with the other 72 Sinn Fein MPs she never took her seat.
Sixteen other women stood for Parliament and all were defeated. These included Christabel Pankhurst and Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence
The first female MP to take her seat was Nancy Astor, who won a bye-election in 191
The general elections of the 1920s were no different from those of the pre-war period. Giving women the vote had been the disaster that some had predicted.
Politics continued to be dominated by men and by 1928 there were only four women in the House of Commons.
In any case the Act of 1918 had been regarded as a trial by many people and it was soon clear that it had been successful.
In 1928, therefore, the Equal Franchise Act gave women the vote on equal terms with men.

The Suffragettes
Emmeline Pankhurst died in 1928, just after women were given the vote at twenty-one. By then her days as a militant had long passed and in 1926 she had joined the Conservative Party.
Frederick Pethick-Lawrence had become an MP and spoke out strongly in favour of the 1928 Act.
Christabel Pankhurst became deeply religious and gave lectures on the second coming of Jesus Christ.
In her autobiography published in 1958, she admitted that the violent campaign had been a mistake.
Her younger sister Sylvia, who had left the WSPU in 1913, became heavily involved in Socialism.

D: Changing educational opportunities for women and girls and the impact of these for workplace opportunities
By 1860, while education had become more important as a result of the demands of factory work, it was not compulsory and there was a wide variety in the quality and nature of schools.
Most children went to Voluntary schools run by Church societies, but the poorest often went to Ragged Schools, which had been established by Lord Shaftesbury.
Boys were more likely to be educated than girls, because many schools charged fees.
The first significant change came with Forster’s Education Act in 1870.

How did Forster’s Act try to change education?
It established a dual system where new Board schools would be established. These would exist side by side with existing and new church schools provided by the Voluntary Societies.
The intention of the Act was to ‘Fill the gaps’ where they existed and ensure that there were enough school places for all children. This was an important step in providing education for girls.
The members of the board would be elected and had the power to raise a local rate to build a school. Women were included as electors for the first time in Britain
These could provide free education but most made a charge to all but the poorest children.
Attendance could also be made compulsory for 5-13 year olds. Many School Boards did not choose to use compulsion though the London School Board did. This was the first time that all girls were educated, but only in London.
The Act was the first step taken by the state in the provision of schools. For the first time there was to be enough schools for all children to attend.

What were the weaknesses of Forster’s Act?
There was no national system and school boards operated differently in different parts of the country. Many were upset that education was neither compulsory nor free. Consequently, girls still tended to suffer more than boys.
Some people complained that the members of School Boards knew little about education.
The Act was unclear about the definition of elementary education. Some Boards provided more education and at higher levels (Higher Grade Schools) than others. Again, girls usually lost out.
However the Act marked a major change in the provision of education in Britain.
The role of the state would increase year by year, as would the amount spent on education. In 1833, the state played a very small part in education, after 1870 it was the major player. Girls would only gain equality in education if the state was involved.
Forster’s Act led to further reforms which included Sandon’s Act 1876 and Mundella’s Act 1880; together these made education compulsory to the age of 10.
In 1891, elementary education was made free and by the end of the century the school leaving age had been raised to 12. Boys and girls were now being educated on equal terms in elementary school

The opening of universities and the professions
In 1846 Bedford College opened as the first institution of higher education for women. Two years later Queen’s College in London opened as a centre for the training of female teachers.

In 1850 Francis Buss founded the North London Collegiate School for Ladies. She remained its Headmistress until 1894. She was the first person to hold the title of Headmistress.
Dorothea Beale was the Principal of Cheltenham Ladies College from 1858-1906. She was also involved in the training of teachers and was a committed suffragette.
These two headmistresses fought hard to establish the education of girls on the same basis as boys. Science mathematics, geography and history were taught, as were the classics.
In 1871 the Girls’ Public Day Schools Trust was founded and set about promoting schools on the lines of the North London Collegiate School and Cheltenham Ladies Colleges.
The changes introduced by Miss Buss and Miss Beale and others not only transformed the educational opportunities available for girls, but also provided the basis on which girls and women could gain access to a wide range of new careers
1878: London University accepted women for the first time and they graduated in 1880
1881: Women were accepted at Cambridge and at Oxford in 1883.
The new ‘red-brick’ universities all accepted women when they were founded, e.g. Birmingham (1900), Liverpool (1903), Manchester (1904) and Leeds (1904).
By 1908, all British universities accepted women, mostly on equal terms with men.
However, some older universities, such as St. Andrews, Glasgow and Edinburgh, restricted the degrees that women could take.
Women were not accepted for first degrees and could only study for an MA. I.e. women had to prove their academic competence before being allowed to study.

People in Britain were horrified when they found out what was happening in the Crimean War (1854-6), and this forced the government to act. This was one reason why the government allowed a team of nurses, headed by Florence Nightingale, to go to the Crimea.
Florence Nightingale’s main contribution to nursing was to improve standards of hygiene. In some other respects she opposed change, particularly in the introduction of new medical techniques.
When Nightingale returned to Britain, she founded the ‘Nightingale School for Nurses’ and wrote ‘Notes for Nursing’.
Nursing became the first real ‘career’ for women in which they could achieve professional qualifications.
By the early twentieth century, there were 64,000 trained nurses in Britain.
In 1849, an American, Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) became the first woman to qualify as a doctor. 1868 she helped establish a medical college in New York for women who wished to be doctors. Elizabeth’s sister, Emily, also qualified as a doctor.
In 1859, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson met Elizabeth Blackwell and decided to train to be a doctor.
In the 1860s she faced opposition at all stages; firstly attending lectures, secondly sitting exams and finally to being awarded a medical degree.
She was stopped from attending lectures, when male students objected to her presence. She was then prevented from sitting exams and finally to being awarded a medical degree.
Even after she was qualified, none of the medical colleges would register Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, so she could not practise.

After a legal battle, she was able to practise from 1865 and began to work in the East End of London.
Sophia Jex-Blake was one of a group of women admitted to Edinburgh University to study medicine in 1869.
They were all dismissed from the course but she was able to get a degree in medicine from Berne University in Switzerland.
She founded the London School of Medicine in 1874 and this allowed women to train as doctors.
Women doctors remained the exception rather than the rule until the First World War. In 1900, there were only 212 women doctors in Britain

Why did women found developing a career very difficult at the beginning of the twentieth century?
Women were often not as well educated as men. Before 1876 education had not been compulsory and it was not free until 1880. Some families educated their sons, but not their daughters.
At the beginning of the twentieth century only about one girl in fifty stayed at school after the age of twelve.
The law offered very little protection to women when they tried to get a job. Women did not have the vote and so could do little to change the situation.
The largest employer of women was Domestic Service. About 2,300,000 people worked as domestic servants, including about 1,600,000 women.
This about 30% of the total number of women in full-time work at the beginning of the twentieth century
Many girls went into domestic service when they left school at the age of twelve.
Because there were so many girls looking for work, pay was very low.
It was a job, which did not require a high level of education. Most of the work was manual.
Women also worked in large numbers in the textile industries (cotton and wool) and in clothing.
Often the work in the clothing industry was carried out in small workshops which were in the house of the employer. These were part of the ‘Sweated Trades’.
These workers faced very bad conditions and very low pay. Women had no way of protesting as they usually worked in small groups and had no trade unions. They often needed the money and had no alternative but to accept the conditions.
About 900,000 women (one in six of the total workforce) worked in these conditions. There was very little that could be done to tackle the problems.
Trade unions refused to accept women who were therefore unable to protest. This was despite the success of Annie Besant and the Match-girls in 1888.
Women were also beginning to work in newer industries with inventions, such as telephone exchanges and using the typewriter.
Women worked in telephone exchanges connecting calls and in offices using typewriters. They were usually quicker than men and had smaller hands and fingers.

The consequences of increased employment of women in the First World War
Many women, especially shorthand typists and munitions workers, earned far more than before the war and gained greater economic independence
Many women worked away from home where they experienced a sense of liberation from their restricted home lives. Chaperones disappeared.

Women smoked and drank in public. Shorter hair and shorter skirts, even trousers, became commonplace.

Improved working conditions as factories began to provide canteens for their workers, nurseries for working women and medical facilities.
Trade unions initially opposed the dilution of labour but eventually recruited many more women. 350,000 women were in unions in 1914, but 600,000 by 1918.
Women increased in confidence and self-respect. They gained a greater sense of independence and a growing sense of their own worth.
Marwick argues that it was women’s contribution to the war that brought the vote in 1918.
Martin Pugh insists that this undervalues the influence of the pre-war suffrage movements.

The impact of the First World War
Although many women found themselves earning good wages for the first time during the war, women were always paid less than men, and were not promoted as often as their male colleagues.
They were often given the most dangerous jobs to do. In addition male workers played practical jokes on them.
In 1915 there were the strikes against the use of women workers and some men complained of 'dilution', unskilled women taking over the jobs of skilled men.
Actions like these meant that when the war ended most women were sacked and their jobs were given to men.
There was a major campaign to persuade women to give up their jobs and go back to being housewives.
Women who refused to give up their jobs were sometimes attacked. The phrase 'Heroines to Scroungers' was used to describe them.
But the war did lead to real changes in social attitudes. Women had more freedom after the war.
Their clothing became much simpler, with shorter skirts and sleeves. Hairstyles changed and trousers became acceptable for the first time.
The impact of the war should not be overstated. Most married women had always worked (5.9 million in 1914) and had done so in lowly-paid manual jobs. A woman usually received 50-60% of a man’s wage for the same work.
However, the changes that took place as a result of war work were relatively limited.

Numbers of women employed in different sectors

1914 1918
Agriculture 190,000 228,000
Industry 2,178,600 2,970,600
Hotels and catering 181,000 220,000
Domestic Service 1,658,000 1,258,000
Shops and trade 505,500 934,500
Civil servants and teaching 262,000 460,000
Transport 18,200 117,000

Most of the changes came about because approximately 1.2 million women took up work for the first time during the war and many of these went into transport, the civil service, industry and trade.

The number of women who gave up domestic service was less significant than might be imagined. In 1918, domestic service was still the single most important employer of women in Britain.

What happened at the end of the War?
The improvements made during the war evaporated almost completely in the 1920s and many women returned to domestic service.
The women who benefited most were those who were able to take advantage of increased access to education and the professions and this was only a small percentage of the more affluent middle class.

Legal changes
In 1919 the Sex Disqualification Act made discrimination against women in some professions illegal.
However it did not have much effect because it was very difficult to prove that discrimination had taken place.
In 1922, The Law of Property Act gave husbands and wives equal rights to inherit each other’s property.
In 1923, divorce became easier for women. They could now divorce their husbands on the equal terms.
Until 1923 a wife had to prove two causes for divorce out of adultery, cruelty and desertion, while a man only had to prove one. From 1923 both partners were on equal terms.
Women also gained more control over their lives in the 1920s because contraception became available for the first time through the work of Marie Stopes.
Few women were able to take advantage of this at first, but the social stigma of using contraception began to be reduced.

The professions
Several professions began to accept women much more readily. The vast number of casualties during the First World War had meant that women doctors were needed in large numbers. The legal profession also began to accept women for the first time.
Until 1922, when four women qualified as solicitors, there had been no women in the legal professions. The Law Society refused to allow women to sit for its examinations.
As late as 1909, the Court of Appeal had rejected a petition by women to be allowed to sit Law Society examinations; the judge had ruled that women were not ‘persons’ as defined in law. He was a man of course.
Progress was slow, however, by 1930, there were about 100 women practising as solicitors.
Teaching in elementary schools had been dominated by women for many years. In 1851, there were 71,000 female teachers and in 1900, 170,000, but few women were promoted to be headteachers.
Women teachers in secondary schools became more numerous after the First World War, but promotion still proved almost impossible.

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