Following the British war press office lead of using images of women helping the war effort by replacing men in the factories, heavy industry and transport, the Germans also realised that the home front was a rich source of propaganda
The entrance of women into the workforce in Britain at first provoked a hostile reception for the usual sexist motives male and female gender roles entered public debate with the male work force and the unions claiming women were deficient as workers, owing to family responsibilities: that they were physically weaker and lacked a tradition of work expertise. However, as the army recruitment drive advanced and the inevitable need for conscription arrived, the number of women working in industry grew. Propaganda was used to give the impression that women replaced men in factories wholesale. Dilution officers toured the country demonstrating the ease with which skilled work could be reorganised for the unskilled, with exhibitions of photographs, machines and women actually at work. This wartime march towards sexual equality did, however result in a post-war backlash against the employment of women, in particular married women, with ex-servicemen reclaiming the jobs that had been performed by women during the war years. Women also now found themselves in competition with disabled ex-servicemen for jobs that had before been considered women’s work before the war On the positive side, this newfound freedom for women further galvanised support for the eventual right for British women to vote.
Women doing such work at first sat uneasily with German nationalist policies and a growing welfare state intended to support the family. However the German Government did not foresee how the scarcity of goods, especially food, put pressure on the home front and created discontent that would change the way women supported the war effort. The message seen in the image reads “Made with the heart and hand for the Fatherland”
In Germany working women were more often discribed in 1914 as potential or actual mothers rather than as workers
British munitions workers
German munitions workers
The message seen in the image reads “Made with the heart and hand for the Fatherland”