In World War I, British military industry was dominated by women

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c. 1917

Women and men work amid rows of artillery shells at the National Filling Factory in Chilwell.

Image: Imperial War Museums

When Britain entered World War I in 1914, thousands of women joined the workforce to fill jobs left by men sent overseas.

In addition to taking over as transit workers, police, bank tellers and firefighters, women dominated the manufacturing industry which sprang up to fuel the war effort.

Women filled the floors of factories producing artillery shells, gas masks, tanks, ships, planes, mines and various munitions.

The work was not only strenuous and difficult, it was hazardous. Women in munitions factories had their skin turn yellow from regular exposure to TNT, earning the nickname “canaries.” Hundreds of women died from overexposure to TNT and other deadly chemicals. Read more…

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