Drawing on official records, contemporary writing and oral history, the author examines the myth and reality of women's "experience of war" and shows that before 1914 they were often supporting dependants, had acquired considerble industrial experience, and how women's trade acitivity was growing. She studies the effect of "dilution and substitution" in making good the loss of industrial workers, the effect of "patriotic fervour", the industrial roles of women, wages, the effect on health and family life and demobilization in 1918-19. The war showed that women were capable of a variety of tasks and they made great sacrifices and contributions massively to the war effort. The effect of war-work has underlined women's posistions by their gender; they had changed but not improved their working lives.
Deborah Thom teaches at Robinson College, Cambridge.
Introduction-survey of literature and historiography; technological change and its nature of dilution; statistical survey of women's work and its location; representation and record keeping; women and trade unions at war-time; health and TNT poisoning; women at Woolwich Arsenal; conclusion-positive re-structuring of the labour market, politics memory, assessment of oral history and literature of "experience of war".