Women in the Workforce

Women in the Workforce

The proportion of women in the workforce rose during the 20th century. In 1900 the British workforce included five million women, about a third of the total. By the end of the century it was over half - seven million women.

There had also been a transformation in the sort of jobs undertaken by women. In 1900 most jobs were domestic service or other 'semi-skilled' activities. By the end of the century women had entered the professions and one had even risen to the highest political office: in 1979 Margaret Thatcher became Britain's first woman Prime Minister.

War work

During both world wars women entered industry in larger numbers than ever before. At Woolwich Arsenal, London's main armaments factory, the number of women employed before 1914 was negligible. Numbers rose to 9,400 in 1916 and 24,719 by 1917. Between 1914 and 1918 the number of women employed by the London and General Omnibus Company rose from 226 to 2,832.

At the end of the war many women objected to being ousted from their new jobs, which were supposed to be 'returned' to men.

Bookmark with:

  • What are these?