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The Role of the Fairer Sex
Challenge yourself in this enjoyable quiz.

The Role of the Fairer Sex

The Role of the Fairer Sex looks at women during the war.

Prior to World War One, women were restricted in their employment opportunities. Many jobs were forbidden to women, their pay was much less than that of men and they were not entitled to vote. By the war's end life had improved somewhat, but there was still a long way to go before women and men would be considered as equals.

1.
In the decades before the war the Suffragette Movement was campaigning to get votes for women. What did they do at the outbreak of war?
They campaigned against the fighting
They suspended all protests
They urged women not to work
They campaigned to recruit soldiers
Two of the three main Suffragette organisations called a halt to their protests. The NUWSS suspended all political activities and the WSPU ended all militant activities. Only the WFL carried on with its work. One leading figure in the WSPU was so angered by the decision that she left Britain to campaign on behalf of American women
2.
As men left home to fight in the war, women were needed to replace them. How many women joined the labour-force during the war?
400,000 women
800,000 women
1,200,000 women
1,600,000 women
This still left a shortage of workers as nearly 5,000,000 men had gone to war. To make up for this, many women worked as volunteers and others moved from their traditional employment to more 'manly' work in order to fill the gap
3.
As well as working as nurses and teachers, women took up work in traditionally masculine jobs. In what area did the largest proportion work?
Factory work
Mining
Farming
Manual labouring
Women worked in all of the above fields, but the greater number were employed in munitions factories. These supplied the front-line troops with clothing, food, weapons and explosives
4.
Working in munitions factories could be dangerous to women's health. Exposure to chemicals often turned women's skin yellow, earning them what nickname?
China Girls
Lemon Girls
Canary Girls
Banana Girls
There were other dangers in munitions work. On 1st July 1918 eight tons of TNT exploded at a munitions factory in Chilwell, Nottinghamshire. 134 people were killed in the blast and only 32 of the bodies could be identified. The 102 unidentified people were buried in a mass grave at St. Mary's Church in the nearby village of Attenborough
5.
The move of women into manual work saw the virtual end of which occupation, a major source of employment for women prior to the war?
Nanny
Domestic servant
Stay-at-home mother
Laundress
During the war the middle classes employed fewer servants in an attempt to save money. After the war less women were willing to work as servants now that they had experience of jobs with better pay and conditions. The domestic servant became all but extinct
6.
Dorothy Lawrence impersonated a man so that she could serve as a soldier. What became of her when her true identity was discovered?
She was signed up as an official soldier
She was sent back home
She was hailed as an example to British women
She was held as a prisoner of war
Dorothy was suspected of being a spy. She was held prisoner in France and was not released until she signed an affidavit promising not to tell of her experiences. Only then was she sent back to England
7.
Flora Sandes was the only British woman to serve as an official soldier during the war, though not in the British army. Which country's army did she join?
Serbia
Austria
Russia
Italy
Women were allowed to serve in the Serbian army and Flora reached the rank of Sergeant Major. In 1916 she was seriously injured by a hand grenade but she survived and was awarded the Order of the Karadorde's Star, the highest honour in the Serbian Army
8.
Many thousands of women served in the war zone as nurses. One British lady, Edith Cavell, worked as a nurse in Belgium at the start of the war after the Germans had invaded. She was executed on 12th October 1915 by the Germans, on what charge?
That she was a spy
That she had treated enemy soldiers
That she had helped soldiers to escape the country
That she had organised terrorist plots against the Germans
The night before her execution Edith said to her chaplain, "Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone." These words were inscribed on her statue which stands near Trafalgar Square in London
9.
When men returned home from the battlefield after the war, what new cause did women have to protest?
Demand for equal pay
The loss of their jobs
Demand for maternity leave
The loss of Trade Union protection
The move of women into traditionally masculine work had only been intended as a temporary measure. When men returned home many thousands of women lost their jobs. This was particularly hard as a good proportion of them had been widowed by the war. In addition, the husbands of others had been severely wounded and could not work, meaning that the women were now the breadwinners of their families
10.
Women were finally given the vote in the first general election to be held after the war, but not all of them. What age must a woman have reached in order to vote?
21
25
27
30
It was not until the 'Representation of the People Act' was passed by Parliament, 10 years later, that women were given equal voting rights to men and those aged 21 or more were allowed to take part in elections

 

Author:  Graeme Haw

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