Women's Employment in the 1940s Essays

Women's Employment in the 1940s Essays

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The 1940s provided a drastic change in women’s employment rates and society's view of women. With the end of the Depression and the United States’ entrance into World War II, the number of jobs available to women significantly increased. As men were being drafted into military service, the United States needed more workers to fill the jobs left vacant by men going to war. Women entered the workforce during World War II due to the economic need of the country. The use of Patriotic rhetoric in government propaganda initiated and encouraged women to change their role in society. Yet, at the end of the war, the same ideas that encouraged women to accept new roles had an averse affect on women, encouraging them to leave the workforce. The patriotism promoted by propaganda in the 1940s, encouraged Americans to support the war effort and reinforced the existing patriarchal society. Propaganda's use of patriotism not only increased loyalty to America during the war, but also, increased loyalty to the traditional American patriarchal values held in society.

Many factors affected the changes in women’s employment. The change that occurred went through three major phases: the prewar period in the early 1940s, the war years from 1942-1944, and the post war years from around 1945-1949. The labor shortage that occurred as men entered the military propelled a large increase in women’s entrance into employment during the war. Men's return to the civilian workforce at the end of the war caused the sudden drop to prewar levels. The cause of the sudden decline during post war years of women in the paid workforce is unclear. Many questions are left unanswered: What brought women into the war industry, ...


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...ck, Sherna Berger. Rosie the Riveter Revisited. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987

Hartmann, Susan M. The Home Front and Beyond: American women in the 1940s. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1982

Honey, Maureen. Creating Rosie the Riveter. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1984

Koussoudji, Sherrie A. and Laura J. Dresser. “Working class Rosies: Women Industrial Workers During World War II” The Journal of Economic History 51.2 (June 1992): 431-446

Meyerowitz, Joanne. “Beyond the Feminine Mystique: A Reassessment of Postwar Mass Culture, 1946-1958” The Journal of American History (March 1993): 1455-1482

Mies, Maria. Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale. New York: St Martin’s P, 1998

Nichols, Nancy A. Reach for the Top. Boston: Presidents and Fellows of Harvard, 1994

Williams, Raymond. Keywords. New York: Oxford University Press, 1979

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