Work for Women

It took the outbreak of the First World War for women to be given more opportunities to take on work outside of the home.

The Women's Army Auxiliary Corps was a volunteer organisation that women joined to help the war effort. They wore military style uniform and took on the jobs that men had to leave in order to fight in the War. Despite being a uniformed service there were no ranks, and it was divided into four sections: Cookery, Mechanical, Clerical and Miscellaneous. The service was disbanded by 1920.

In World War Two, women were invited to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) , which was established in 1938. All women joining the Army entered the ATS, except for nurses who joined the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. Women took on a variety of roles dependent on their experience in civilian life; however they were not permitted to fight. The ATS was disbanded in 1949.

Between 1949 and 1992, women wanting a military career could join the Women's Royal Army Corps (WRAC). Roles available to women gradually expanded, until there were over 40 trades that women could apply for, including chefs, dog handlers, drivers, intelligence analysts and military police. When the WRAC was disbanded in 1992, women were distributed into other units that were deemed 'appropriate' for women. The roles that women were permitted to apply for gradually expanded until only the combat roles were unavailable to them.

Women were not considered for equal combat roles within the Army until 2019.

Planning a visit?

Please use the contact form below to get in touch with our Learning Officer at Edinburgh Castle.