Resource created by: People's History Museum
This resource reveals an aspect of women’s war work during the First World War and links with women's suffrage and trade union activities.
- KS2 History – WW1 – A significant turning point in British history
- KS3 History - WW1 – Events of WW1
- KS4 History – Britain at War – Britain & WW1
- Knowledge of the role of women war workers and linked campaigns
- Understanding of the scope of women’s war work in WW1
- Skills to analyse the significance of women’s war work and how it intersects with wider events of 1914-1918 and post-war Britain
- Why do you think women chose to work as welders during the First World War?
- What other types of work did women do in the First World War?
- Would you have wanted to work as a welder? Why/why not?
- Why were women welders paid less than male workers?
- How do you think they felt about this?
- Why do you think the Society of Women Welders chose to wear a badge rather than a different item of clothing?
- Are there any similarities with the 'On War Service' badge worn by civilian men and women (see link below)?
- Look at the Nevinson lithograph of women welders. What safety measures do you think are missing that there would be in a modern workplace?
- Are there any jobs that you think women ‘can’t’ or ‘don’t’ do today?
- How much has the pay gap situation changed during the past century?
- Research different types of work carried out by women during the First World War. Choose one job that you are most interested in and create a fact-sheet about it. Try to find out:
- Roughly how many women did this job in WW1?
- What did their job entail?
- How much were they and their male colleagues paid?
- Was the job part of a special wartime organisation?
- How women felt about the job. (Look for original sources or accounts by the women themselves)
- What have historians said about this role?
- Do the women workers’ views differ from the historians' opinions?
- Female war worker in the hot seat: Use your research in a question-answer activity. Starting with the teacher's example, different members of the class answer questions from the perspective of a female munitions worker in WW1.
This activity could be varied to include male workers and their responses to women working alongside them, or other members of the community, for instance a soldier whose wife is working in a factory.
- Debate: Using the links below to articles on the gender pay gap in the UK, compile evidence and conduct a debate on this topic.
- Design a badge for one of the other women's services in WW1. Use the link to 1914-1918.net below as a starting point to research the various women's organisations. Then, compare your designs with the real badges/emblems used by these groups. How are they different/similar?