Find out about the roles and responsibilities of women in the First World War.

Background Information


In the First World War the role of women changed dramatically. With many husbands, sons and brothers heading off to the front, women had to take their place in the jobs they left behind. Many of these roles were paid but some were voluntary such as; ticket collectors, nurses on ambulance trains and station buffet attendants.

These new roles allowed women to experience being part of a needed taskforce. They gained skills and expertise in roles that only men had previously had.

The aim of these resources is to help your students to explore the role of women in the First World War. The resources offer an insight into some of the roles and experiences of women at the front as well as at home on the railways.

Teachers’ Notes

How to use these resources

  • use them as discussion points for learning about the lives of women in the First World War
  • encourage your students to explore and interpret the resources
  • compare the experience of women on the home front and in France

Talking points

What’s happening in these pictures?
Why do you think these photographs might have been taken?
What does this tell you about the role of women?
Does anything in these resources surprise you?
What has changed with regards to the role of women on the railways now?
What do these photographs not tell us?
What questions do you need to ask about these resources?
What other types of sources of information do you think you need to look at to find out the answers to these questions?