World War II threw the the social aspect of the United States on its head, challenging social norms and prejudices throughout its entirety. One of the largest changes in the social topography of the United States was women being introduced into the labor force. Before the war, women made up a very small percentage of the U.S. labor force, the majority of this small percentage being young and single women. This changed during the war, as production needed to increase tremendously to provide for the nation’s military push. The large population of young men leaving to join the military to support the war efforts, hindered this production, thus causing industrial powers to step over cultural boundaries, hiring women of all ages and backgrounds in order to fill in the gap caused by the military and the war movement. This caused the economy to spike upward as production was at it’s peak. Although it seemed as if large amounts of social progress were being made through this mass introduction of women into the labor force, women still faced many barriers and prejudice that reflected the same cultural attitudes as before the war.
One of the problems women faced in the labor force was unequal pay compared to men. Even during World War II, women were being paid considerably less for the same work as men. Whatever men were earning for working a specific job before the war, women were earning only about sixty-five percent of that for working the same job during the war. Industrial powers intentionally took advantage of women in this way because they knew they could get away with it. They knew that even though women would be earning a little more than half of what men earned, it was considerably more than w...
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...ave to give up their jobs to the men once they returned from the war.
Although it seemed like the cultural views of women progressed because of the war, it actually remained the same. While one could argue social progression occurred with women entering the industrial labor force in large quantities, the message portrayed by the Labor Department’s Children’s Bureau disproves it. In Victorian America before the war, leaders stressed the idea of domesticity, the belief that a woman’s role was strictly a mother and a wife. This same idea of domesticity is expressed by the Labor Department’s Children’s Bureau stating that women’s first priority is her children and her family. Through this, it is clear that women were simply used as an object, a piece of machinery to produce materials to support the war effort. This was about completing a task, not equality and freedom.
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