How useful are these two sources as evidence for the contribution of women to the war effort in the years 1914-1918
Source F is an advertising poster looking for female help. Before the war it was difficult for women to find these sorts of opportunities, it was extremely rare. This was an opportunity for women to contribute to what was usually predominantly a male dominated profession. Women were now allowed to take part in other areas such as industry. Before the outbreak of the First World War women were considered second-class citizens. Due to the lack of munitions on the battlefield, the government was forced to change its views quickly as help was required.
The date of this poster is 1916; this was during the Battle of the Somme. Douglas Haig (Commander in chief of the British forces in France during most of World War One) believed that a victory in this battle would lead to the downfall of the Germans. This meant there was a sudden increase in the requirements for munitions. More and more shells needed to be produced as a victory in this battle was thought to be vital.
This was portrayed in the poster by a young attractive woman dressed in factory attire in the foreground as there is a soldier preparing some munitions in the background. This emphasizes the vital role women played in the war effort. Also, the poster reads “Enrol At Once”. This just reveals the urgency of the message that is trying to be announced.
This poster is unreliable as it is a piece of government propaganda. By definition propaganda suits the government to attract whatever sort of attention they desire. This immediately tells us it is unreliable as it is a way for the government to get what they need. It is also unreliable as the woman in the poster is attractive and positive about the work she is doing. It is obvious that all workers would not be as attractive and positive about working as she is. This is another method used to get as many women to sign up as possible.
The source is also useful in other ways though. This poster could be considered a turning point as women were being encouraged to fill the roles of the absent men. This was the first time that the government was allowing the women to do this. It is argued that they didn’t really have a choice as they were possibly very desperate for work. Nonetheless, this must still be considered a turning point in the attempt of women’s suffrage.
Source G is a statistics based source from a modern day school textbook. It is clear from source G that women filled the void left by the men being at war. Female employment in the metal industry had risen through the roof. This source takes you over the period of four years and within these four years woman workers in the chemical industry had increased by over two and a half times, women working in government offices went from 2,000 up to a staggering 225,000 and women who worked in food, drink and tobacco increased from 196,000 to 235,000. These are statistics given by the government and are seen as a reliable source.
This source also shows how the government was forced to take control of the workforce as part of the war effort. The government had to freeze all prices and wages. More and more women came on to the payroll as the demand for typists, telephonists, secretaries, and clerks was required.
Overall source G supports source F as it is proof that source F was a success. It illustrates that women did respond to the cry out from the government. Women did then really contribute to the war effort and showed a real sense of responsibility.
The only thing about source G that can be considered unreliable is that it reveals statistics to us from the years 1914 and 1918 and source F is a poster from 1916. This means that that it is more than likely that there were other factors involved in women becoming involved in the war effort. It is still likely that source F played a large roll in getting women involved during the war.