The Roles of Women before ‘The Great War’
British society has undergone many changes during the Great War. Significantly, the changes had affected many women of all statuses to bring the good for the rights of women and how they eventually obtained their voting rights. Before the Great War, Upper Class women in Britain did not work at all, where they were known to be caring for their husbands, children and of course their homes. Also, they had the job of being a housewife; fulfilling the basic essential needs in the home of cleaning, ironing, preparing meals, etc. Like nowadays women have several rights they are eligible to, however in the late Victorian and early Edwardian period (1880’s – 1914), women had no rights at all. Women were known not be as clever as men and for several other reasons they were not allowed to go out into the financial world and receive jobs for extra income. The average woman would spend their day looking after their children, cleaning their house and cooking for their family. The woman's husband would have a job and earn the money whilst the woman stayed at home and looked after the children. Women's family were very important to them. Woman wanted to be treated as equally as men. Women's only professions were said to be motherhood and wifehood. "A woman's place is in the home" is how women expressed their selves as all their chores were in their home whilst the men went out to work. Girls were said to follow their mother’s footsteps so it wasn't as important for them to go to school. If a poor man chose to send his children to the 'poorhouse', the mother was legally defenceless to object. Some communities let women act as lawyers in courts, sue for property and to own property in their own names if their husbands agreed. Though, there was quite a division between the upper, middle and working class women during the First World War. Having discussed about the status of the upper class women, it was however not the same case for the working class women. The working class women worked mainly as maids, in domestic service and in factories. They worked very hard to keep their families going. There were fewer Middle class women working than Working Class but those that did, worked as teachers, nurses, telephonists, typists and as sales assistants. When women from the Middle Class married, most of them had to quit their jobs, but there are sources which say that women from Lancashire were still expected to work in the textile mills, even if they were married. Upper Class women didn't have to work because they were already well off, because of the husbands earning sufficient amount of revenue to provide the family with not only food, water and shelter but also to some extent; luxury, which at the era was hard to afford for the less fortunate families. Education was not available to working class women but, at the end of the 19th century some universities were beginning to accept a few wealthy women to study degree courses. Though, they were still educated separately from the men, and it wasn’t until 1920 that some universities actually granted degrees out to the women, for instance, Oxford University was the first to do so. It was a great thanks to individual initiatives, and the pioneering work of the Association for Promoting the Higher Education of Women that women’s colleges came to be established for the first time in the history of Britain situated in Oxford. Yet, sources have said that some woman did work in professions in the 18th century. They were doctors, lawyers, preachers, teachers, writers and singers (but this was less regarded by the nation and often was frowned upon as they were to be at a lower status to the men and not competing with them, to secure a place in society but look after the children). But by the early 19th century woman were limited to factory labour and domestic work. The only professions the women were then allowed to do were writing and teaching. The British...
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