Women of WWII in the Labor Force Essay

Women of WWII in the Labor Force Essay

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When American officially entered World War II in 1941 changes occurred for many people. The draft was enacted forcing men to do their duty and fight for their country. Women were asked to hold down the home front in many ways, ranging from rationing, volunteering, saving bacon grease and making the most of their commodities they currently had. There was also a hard push for women to take war production jobs outside the home. Before the depression, just a few years before the war, it was not uncommon for a woman to work for wages, but as the depression set in, married women were at risk of losing their jobs. Numerous women were fired or asked to resign in order to make room for a man who had lost his job. Many citizens felt it was unfair for a family to have two wage earners when some families had none. (Kessler-Harris) Previously, the average workforce of women was young and single. However, when the war started, couples were married at a younger age, putting the typical worker in short supply. This led to a rapid increase in older married women going to work outside the home. “During the depression, 80 percent of Americans objected to wives working outside the home, by 1942, only 13 percent still objected.” (May) By the end of the war, 25 percent of married women were employed. (May) Although women had worked outside the home prior to World War II, their entrance into the war production labor force created change in the typical gender roles and provided an exciting and yet difficult time for many women who were gaining their independence.
Various socioeconomic classes of women were targeted by wartime propaganda mobilizing them to “do their part”. Customarily, single women of the lower and middle classes were recruited into the...


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... dismissing these ideas as the war ended and men returned home. Their focus then turned to assuring the male public that women were still women and downplayed the independence they had gained. Nevertheless, those women paved the way for women after them to enter the work force, showing that even though their work was temporary during a time of crisis, they exceeded the expectations a nation had set for them.



Works Cited

Adkins-Covert, Tawnya J. Manipulating Images. Lanham, MD: The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., 2011. book.
Kessler-Harris, Alice. Women Have Always Worked: A Historical Overview. New York: The Feminist Press, 1981. book.
May, Elaine Tyler. Homeward Bound. New York: Basic Books, 2008. book.
US Department of Commerce. "Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being." March 2011. Whitehouse.gov. document. November 2013.


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