If you have been taught that women couldn't get jobs pre-1914, then I am sorry but you have been taught wrong. A great many women had to work for a living before 1914, indeed a great many women have ALWAYS had to work for a living, whatever century they lived in.
for instance, in the UK in the early 1900s, about a million women worked in domestic service (that is, they were servant). They worked very hard indeed. For instance, in her autobiography Agatha Christie described the work done by the servants in her parents home (she was born in 1890)
"Servants did an incredible amount of work. Jane cooked five-course dinners for seven or eight people as a matter of daily routine. For grand dinner parties of twelve or more, each cource contained alternatives - two soups, two fish courses, etc. The housemaid cleaned about forty silver photograph frames and toilet silver ad lib, took in and empteid a 'hip bath' (we had a bathroom but my mother thought it a revolting idea to use a bath others had used), brought hot water to bedrooms four times a day, lit bedroom fires in winter, and mended linen etc every afternoon. The parlour-maid cleaned incredible amounts of silver and washed glasses with loving care in a papier-mache bowl, besides providing perfect waiting at table."
A great many women worked in factories. The majority of workers in textile factories were women, and had been ever since the factories first started in the late late 18th century. The Industrial Revolution could not have happened without the labour of women.
The making of clothes was another occupation that employed vast numbers of women - either employed in workshops, or working at home, or in some cases running their own dressmaking establishments. Millinery (making hats) was another female occupation.
A lot of women worked in shops. They worked very long hours (there were no regulations governing the hours of employment for shop assistants until the 1950s). Most female shop assistants were to be found in department stores, milliners and dressmakers, confectioners, fancy goods shops and so on. In a chemist's shop, an attractive and sympathetic female assistant who would not frighten away female customers was an assett.
Teaching was a profession that was largely female dominated. The majority of teachers in state primary schools were women. They could become teachers by starting as 'pupil teachers' or they could go to a teacher training college. Teachers in state primary schools were usually working class or lower middle class, teachers in grammar schools were more likely to be women who had had been to university.
Nurses of course were mainly women. Nursing is a job that has always been done by women, but it had become more respectable since the reforms of Florence Nightingale in the 1850s. And midwives of course were all women, as they had been throughout history. Most women still gave birth at home at this time, and the midwife's role in delivering the baby was vital.
More women were working in offices in the early 1900s. The invention of the typewriter in the 1870s meant that women were increasingly filling clerical positions, the number of clerks and secretaries who were women was increasign steadily.
Thousands of women worked as telephonists, like the typewriter, the telephone was considered particuarly suitable as an instrument to be operated by women. In 1902, Henry Thompson wrote "The National Telephone Company recruit their operators from the ranks of bright, well-educated, intelligent girls, who are, in many cases, the daughters of professional men, doctors, barristers, clergymen and others."
It is true that most women expected to get married and have children but (and this may come as a surprise to you) - most women actually looked forward to this! In her autobiopgrahy Agatha Christie wrote:
"In fact I only contemplated one thing - a happy marriage. About that I had complete self-assurance - as did all my friends. We were conscious of all the happiness that awaited us: we looked forward to being looked after, cherished and amdired, and we intended to get our own way in the things that were important to us, while at the same time putting our husband'ss life, career and ssuccess before all, as was our proud duty. We didn't need pep pills or sedatives - we had belief and joy in life. We had our own personal disappointments - moments of unhappiness - but on the whole life was fun."
Agatha Christie came from an upper middle class background, and girls of her background generally did not expect to have to work before they got married, though most working class and lower middle class girls would have worked for a living. Some married women had to carry on working after the ymarried, but this was not considered particularly desirable.
Married women who did not have to work would expect to run their households, and in many cases would have servants to do some or all of the work of the house. Those who had several servants and did not have ot do any housework had a lot of leisure time to pursue their own interests. many were involved in charitable activities, or social causes like temperence or women'ss rights.
Educated women who were serious about pursuing careers - most likely in teaching, or perhaps medicine or law - generally stayed single. Marriage and careers were not thought to go together well for women.
Answered By: Louise C - 9/7/2010