About this image
The women shown here are wearing Puttees to protect their legs, which suggests that they are helping with the work, and so could possibly be taken during World War 1, when women helped with agricultural labour. Women played a vital role in the First World War, performing their 'patriotic' duties in encouraging men to fight (and giving them white feathers if they didn't), providing nursing duties and making inroads into factories and other industries like munitions production, as we can see here. Women filled many jobs brought into existence by wartime needs. As a result the number of women employed increased from 3,224,600 in July, 1914 to 4,814,600 in January 1918. Nearly 200,000 women were employed in government departments. Half a million became clerical workers in private offices. Women worked as conductors on trams and buses. A quarter of a million worked on the land. The greatest increase of women workers was in engineering. Over 700,000 of these women worked in the highly dangerous munitions industry. Industries that had previously excluded women now welcomed them. Even in areas where they were employed in large numbers, such as munitions and transport, they were often treated as inferior, stop-gap replacements for enlisted men. Moreover, women's wages, routinely portrayed as 'high' in the wartime press, remained significantly lower than those of their male counterparts. Their involvement in the war effort eventually helped with the cause of women's suffrage, and towards the post-war education and training of women.