When Were Women First Allowed To Serve In The Military

When Were Women First Allowed To Serve In The Military – In this first article of a two-part series, Lewis Silkin LLP examines the history of women in the workforce over the years and the historical and current challenges women face in the workplace. Our second article focuses on what the future of work holds for women as a result of this pandemic and the impact of increased mechanization on the labor market and women’s working lives.

Women have always worked, whether in paid jobs or at home, and often both. In this first of two articles, we examine the history of working women and the challenges women face in the workplace.

When Were Women First Allowed To Serve In The Military

The Victorian idea of ​​an “Angel in the House” would not have been at all familiar to many working class women of the time. Women had to work to support themselves and their families. Women worked both inside the home, for example in making pieces, and outside the home in textile and clothing factories and workshops, or in domestic work for wealthy families. Many women of the time were also employed in what were known as “sweatshops” – small industries such as nail making, matchstick making, and shoemaking, where the hours were long and the pay very low. Real opportunities for women in the workplace were limited.

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Historically, wages have been very low for all women, and much lower than their male counterparts. For a long time, women were also largely excluded from trade unions. This combination makes women an attractive prospect for employers in Victoria. Interestingly, when in 1888, Clementina Black, one of only two women delegates to the Council of Women’s Trade Unions, proposed the TUC’s first equal pay resolution, she framed it on the basis that women’s low wages meant they lacked opportunities in the labor market.

Most upper and middle class women did not do paid work, and those who did were expected to stop working and take care of their children and the home when they got married. Entry into the professional professions – lawyers, doctors, and civil servants – is still closed to women.

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In 1913, the Law Society refused to allow four women to sit the Law Society examinations. The women took it to the Court of Appeal. In Bebb v The Law Society, the Court of Appeal upheld the Law Society’s decision and held that women were not “persons” within the meaning of the Solicitors Act 1843. It took another six years before women became human beings and were allowed to be listed under the Abolition of Sex (Abolition) Act 1919.

A few years before this, during the First World War, women were conscripted into voluntary or paid service to free men from being drafted into the armed forces. The war effort also created new employment opportunities for women such as in munitions factories, indeed such firms became the largest employer of women in 1918. Campaigns and recruitment campaigns also led to women being employed in roles that were similarly male, such as bus operators and bankers. clerks, window cleaners and gas fitters, and joining the police and fire services. Overall, employment rates for working women increased during the First World War from 23.6% of the working-age population in 1914 to between 37.7% and 46.7% in 1918.

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It may come as a surprise that during the First World War, women were paid less for their work than men, and there was concern that after the war was over employers would continue to hire women rather than the more expensive men returning from the war. This fear was unfounded; women at work were fired or were always employed alongside men but were paid less.

Depression hit the UK economy during the interwar years. Despite unemployment benefits introduced by the National Insurance Act of 1911, women were ineligible for benefits if they refused to do housework. Therefore, many women returned to the domestic work they did before the war. During the war there was a great decline in women’s work.

As the Second World War approached, conscription campaigns and campaigns for women in the workforce began again. Sir William Beveridge’s secret report argued in 1940 that conscription of women was inevitable. The following year, all women in Britain aged 18 to 60 had to be registered, and their household activities recorded. Each one was interviewed and had to choose from various jobs. The National Service Act of 1941 (no. 2) made conscription of women legal. At first, only single women in their twenties were called up, but within two years nearly 90 percent of single women and 80 percent of married women were employed in work essential to the war effort.

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With so many working women and mothers, the government was forced to deal with child care. Government funding was provided to temporarily increase the number of childcare facilities from 14 to approximately 1,345 “wartime nurseries”. However, after the war, mothers of young children were again discouraged from working and most of the state-sponsored childcare facilities were closed by the post-war government.

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The Beveridge Report, which provided the framework for the post-war welfare state, and laid the groundwork for the return of the Angel to the House.

“The attitude of a housewife to find a successful job outside the home should not be the same as that of an unmarried woman. He has other duties…” William Beveridge, The Beveridge Report 1942

Indeed, the creation of the welfare state had mixed effects on women at work. On the other hand, the NHS is creating more employment opportunities in what was previously seen as unpaid ‘women’s work’. On the other hand, it has been argued that the benefit system was based on the idea of ​​a “family unit with a male breadwinner at each head”. Married women were not entitled to benefits considering that, like children, they were supported by the head of the household.

As occupations reverted to strict gender segregation with routine, repetitive work and care work classified as “women’s work”, it follows that the wage gap continued. The gender pay gap is not limited to the working class; while it was recommended in the report of the Royal Commission on Equal Pay of 1946 that women who were teachers or in government positions receive equal salaries, it was not until 1961 that female teachers achieved this. For government employees, a plan was introduced in 1955 to establish equal pay levels for men and women doing equal work in non-industrial government agencies. However, the issuance of this took seven years and there was a debate about what “equal employment” meant.

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Notably, as depicted in the film Made in Dagenham, in 1968, women sewing machines at a Ford factory went on strike after their jobs were reclassified as “unskilled” to ensure their low wages, despite doing the same level of work – manufacturing. car seat covers – like their male counterparts who were placed in the “equal abilities” category.

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After three years of industrial action, the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity, Barbara Castle, intervened, and although the wages of sewing machine workers were raised to 92% of the male rate (from 85%), they did not receive their Class C grade. It wasn’t until another industrial action 16 years later, and an independent arbitration panel in favor of women, that Ford agreed to restore their status as skilled workers in 1984.

Barbara Castle was also instrumental in the introduction of the Equal Pay Act 1970 which abolished gender pay differentials. The Equal Pay Act 1970 gave women the right to the same contractual wages and benefits as men for the same work under certain circumstances where a man and a woman perform:

The law was not clear enough to allow some employers to get around it by creating different job titles for women, or by raising women’s rates to a lower rate than men’s, even when those women’s jobs were more difficult. However, women’s average full-time earnings rose from 72% to 77% of men’s in 1975.

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The pursuit of equal pay in Britain was heavily influenced by the European Union. The passing of the Equal Pay Act 1970 took place before the UK’s entry into the EU in 1973. Equal pay was adopted as a main goal of the EU when it was founded in 1957, originally as the European Economic Community. Article 141 of the European Convention states that “Each Member State shall ensure that the principle of equal pay for men and women for equal work or work of equal value is implemented.”

The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 makes it illegal for a person to be discriminated against at work in relation to job selection, training, promotion, working practices, dismissal or other harm such as sexual harassment because of their gender or marital status. All these provisions are now part of the Equality Act 2010.

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