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Unlike many other countries, Germany did not see a large increase in the number of women in the workforce during World War I. Instead, there was a shift in the types of vocations women were employed in. The number of women involved in domestic service and housekeeping decreased to the benefit of armament factories and the metal, engineering, electrical and chemical industries. Factory nurses also became abundant. There were some women employed during the war who had not previously worked before, thanks to such welfare provisions as Prussian Kriegsamt, which was established on 1 November 1916. This provision employed about one thousand women in the organisation of worker welfare. In 1919, Germany granted women voting rights in recognition of their enormous contribution to the war effort.

The changes in the lives of women in World War I were not all permanent, especially in terms of the types of jobs they were employed in. The latter change apparently did not come as a big surprise, as surveys taken during the war show that most women expected to be employed after the war in such prewar jobs as factory workers, domestic service, homekeeping, seamstressing and office working. With men returning from the war, the number of jobs available to women was significantly lower, especially with most of them surrendering wartime jobs to the males. Only gradually did German women make their way back to the status they enjoyed during World War I.


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Guest, V., Lawrence, J. & Eshuys, J. (1990) World War I: Causes Course Consequences. Macmillan Education, Melbourne.

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