Munition Workers

Women’s wartime contributions saw them breaking into industry and working in munition factories. While this began to change the societal understanding of women at the time, it also became an essential part of the war effort. (Howard, 2007) While seen as essential today, at the time they were not observed in such a way. Humorous cartoons become the sources which depict the roles of women. (Gregory, 2022) These cartoons often written by men saw public opinions about women becoming clear highlighting traditional stereotypes surrounding female weakness and incapability. (Gregory, 2022) While this humorous outlook tells us how the women were perceived by others it does not represent the hard work being done. The following pictures and illustrations depict just that!

"Dependables and their Work"

Dependables and their Work, this leaflet by Dr. Elise Inglis speaks directly to the work of female munition workers. It paints women in a patriotic manner and praises the quality of women’s work and their proficiency. It notes that while there were difficulties in accepting women in hazardous work it was tolerated. Expressing a woman’s motivation to be dependable is rooted in having a loved one in the trenches and supporting them. This source displays how women perceive the work of other women and contrasts the humour and stereotypes perpetuated in the cartoons.

Women's Work: Painting the Shells

Pictured is a small group of women in the factory painting the shells. The photo is accompanied by a caption which reads “Painting. Women are particularly adept in this operation.” Within the rest of the book, the photo captions remain technical often describing what point in the shell-making process they are at. This one seems out of place almost to preserve a woman’s femineity in a male-dominated environment. Or to display that there are jobs which can be done in an industry more suited to a female disposition.

Women in Industry

This image displays a group of women working in a larger area of the factory. Here it can be observed how many women were working in the factories. It was not a few women among the men but a few men among the women. In this photo hiding in the background along the left side, a male in a supervisory position can be seen. He is wearing a polished suit and carrying a book. This shows that women were not entirely trusted to work in the factories and required men to do the job successfully. Even with all the advancements women made the stereotypes persisted.

The Lunchroom

This book also shows the lunchroom, seeing the accommodations clarifies the broader picture of women in the workplace. Not only can the hard work of women be observed but it gives us the ability to see them when not doing all the heavy lifting. The idea to take a photo at this moment and include it in a book covering the ins and outs of the production of munitions creates questions as to why. This photo could have been staged to show that women were not doing the work or that they required more breaks than men. It could have been candid with the intention simply of showing the worker's lunchroom.

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