The Suffragettes and Suffragists

Both sources F and G are very useful as evidence for the contribution of women to the war effort in the years 1914-1918. Source F shows us a poster produced by the government in 1916 in order to persuade women to become Munitions workers. The poster shows an image of a relatively strong looking woman and it shows us perhaps women worked as Munitions workers, as maybe some women would have applied for the job advertised – Munitions.

The poster in source F was also produced by the government, suggesting that they themselves wanted women to work. It also implies that the source is a reliable one. There is also an image of a man at the back of the poster, leading to the conclusion that women are portrayed as equal to men in the poster and that’s how they would be treated in the job. The source also has some limitations. One of the main limitations is that we don’t know whether the poster was successful or not – whether women applied for Munitions jobs.

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Another limitation includes the poster not commenting on what work women carried out. We only know that women perhaps worked in Munitions factories. The source also doesn’t include the working conditions, leaving us to take a go at figuring it out for ourselves.

The second source – G – is also very useful. It is a table of statistics from a school textbook, published in the 1980s to inform. The source shows us the increase in the amount of women working in a variety of industries. It does this very simply by showing the amount of women employed in July 1914 and then in July 1918, by which we can see a significant increase. This is very useful, as it tells us the information very easily. It also shows us four specific industries in which the amount of women working increased in. This allows us to work out in which industry (Metal, Chemical, Government Offices and Food, Drink and Tobacco) did the amount of women working increase in.

As usual, there are always limitations to a source. One major limitation of source G is that it doesn’t tell us what type of jobs the women worked in (i.e. menial, skilled). Additionally, the source doesn’t mention the working conditions either, which would have helped in our understanding of the topic. Another limitation is the huge leap from 1914 to 1918 – we don’t know what happened between those years, where women in employment could have increased drastically and then slowed down. It also doesn’t show us what happened after 1918 and therefore after WW1, which would have helped in understanding whether the rate of female contribution was unusual or not. One final limitation is that the table doesn’t show other contributions except for those four industries visible.

To conclude, source F aided us in recognising that women may have worked in Munitions factories, and that the government advertised for them to do this. Source G helped us to understand the increase in the number of women in employment during the WW1 years. Overall, I believe source G is more useful, as it gives us real facts and therefore we don’t need to guess anything. Whereas, source F forces us to make many inferences, as it doesn’t literally tell us about women’s contribution to the First World War effort. However, by utilising both of the sources together, we can assume that the poster in source F was successful, by looking at the figures in source G.

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