Free a Man for the Fleet

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Women's work?

World War One and World War Two acted as catalysts for modernising women's lives. Women took the opportunity to progress out of the traditional fields of women's work into a variety of occupations that had previously been the preserve of men.

Many of these wartime changes in gender roles were short lived. Women were only employed to replace men strictly for the duration of the war. Furthermore, females were unable to actually participate in combat. Because of these factors there is an argument that women actually retained a lower status to men in society. There is no doubting, however, that the wars resulted in an increased sense of confidence for many women.

Ex-service women express a sense of pride and fulfilment when recalling their wartime duties, remembering this period in their life as one of liberation. Whilst this liberation was somewhat constrained and short lived, wartime changed the immediate experiences of many women. They had opportunities to experience types of work that would have been previously impossible for them.

Free a man for the fleet brochure, WW2
'Free a Man for the Fleet' brochure, WW2 (RNM)

Article Highlights

  • Introduction

  • War work

  • Peacetime

  • Wrens in the 80s

  • Girls Like You

  • Jungle maidens

To find out about WRNS jobs during the World Wars, select Next


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