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Women in World War II

Info: 2943 words (12 pages) Essay
Published: 8th Feb 2020 in History

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During the time of World War II men were leaving their work to the war effort, so women stepped in, and were able to show their worth as more than a stay home mother and housekeepers, but as useful and a large help to their nation when in hardship. Women in World War II no longer held the stereotypical life but became an integral part of helping the war effort and carried on men’s jobs and did them just as well, now women are more respected as stronger, independent, and capable.

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Women were desperately needed in 1939, when World War II began, and they needed encouragement to join a workforce and take control of their new responsibility. At this time women are not only having new role in the home, but also in a uniform. They were not only giving their time, life, and energy to this world effort, but they were also giving up their kids, husbands, and fathers. The United States is in complete war effort in 1939, partially due to the attack on pearl harbor[1]. Due to the United States’ effort they wanted all the sources they could get. With all the many social changes women were allowed to enjoy their sexual freedom and to move to urban areas. A major icon that represented a woman of resilience and strength was Rosie the Riveter, illustrated by Norman Rockwell in 1943. Rosie the Riveter shows that women did not care about people opinions about this, because they were doing this for themselves only[2] and as a patriotic duty[3]. Rosie is also a representation of all the power women were gaining at this time, and the males fears. For example, a fear of the men was that they would not get their jobs back once they came back from the war[4].

Women had to face hardship on almost anything they did or worked for, but there were some struggles they were able to overcome. Furthermore, about the time of 1939, when the United States entered war, women and the Untied States faced hate from Hitler’s disapproval of the role women were being placed in. Hitler though that putting women into jobs there would be a downfall, but we ignore this accusation and continued to grow and have more help in the effort. Hitler had the wrong stereotype of how German women are to be, which is to be good mothers and wives, and to have children for the future of Germany. Women of Germany are help bad by this, but the United States disregarded this and as it turns out Germany was unsuccessful in the war[5]. Also, with the help of the creation of Rosie, she proved the copy of Mein Kampf’s 1925 biography of Adolf Hitler and political manifesto very wrong[6].

Another, struggle women often faced was the unequal pay. There were women working at the Foard Factory in Dagenham, and where sewing the seat covers for the cars. They thought their job was an unskilled job, so they were paid 13% less than the males working on the assembly time[7]. Women were beginning to face unequal pay the more they were getting placed into male jobs. There was a group of women who helped fix this issue. The women went on strike in 1968, because they felt that their job took the same skill level as the male workers. In order for the women to win their cause they had to get the trade union to help support them. The woman’s strike was stopped when there was a consensus by the women to rise the women pay to 92% of the male pay. This strike caused a chain reaction all over the country. This remade the trade union in order to support and campaign the issues, and it led into the development of the Equal Pay Act of 1970. This act was to apply to all public and private sectors that had women and men in similar work[8]. Women would apply for jobs that would be considered male jobs and highly skilled jobs. The employers were able to avoid the equal pay and instead gave 53% of the male’s payment to the women who took the job for them. The easier jobs that were a lower skilled job were called ‘women jobs’ and were removed from the equal pay negotiations[9].

There were many debates women would have to go through to prove themselves, and sometimes they were being stopped by their own husbands. The opinion of the men was generally very different than how the women felt on what they could accomplish. There were women working in the Women Airfare Service Pilots, WASPs, at Camp Davis. The men thought that the women were unable to do anything, so they did not allow the women to get into the cockpit for many weeks[10]. Women were not always unsupported, but they did revive support from men who knew what was best for the country. It was needed that the men and women knew that the country needed all the help they could get, including women in a wartime economy. As it is said in a civil poster, “The more women at work the sooner we’ll win[11].” This quote is motivational not only to women to start helping, but also to show men the results of what women’s help can do. There was still doubt in the mind of the men, and the worries that held when putting their wives into womanpower. There was a poll done asking men and their wives about willingness for the women to join in women power. The poll taken for the women’s willingness from The United States of War Information, OWI, had a difference of willingness differing from the childless women and women with children. Ranging from the young women ages of 20 to 35 years old 42% of women without a child were willing, but only 16% of the mothers were willing to serve. The older age group of women from 35 to 54 years old there were 33% childless women willing and 19% of mothers were willing[12]. So, the older mothers were more willing, possibly because their children were older and could care for themselves better, than the younger mother’s children. Although, strangely the women who are free from children are more willing to do something, but the older women are less open to the idea of working. The poll that the husbands took was regarding their wives to work full-time on an active machine, while in the time of war. The majority of men said no, there were 54% of men who said no. The 30% of men who said yes, it was a yes if andwer. Some of the most common if reasons where yes if the children would still be able to be cared for well and yes if there wife was able to stand working in a factory physically[13]. The husbands request for good care for the children is reasonable, because you want your children to be safe if both parents are away working. It is strange at the time that not many husbands could just say yes to the situation and rather felt that they should just have the trust in the women to make it work. It can be shocking to hear that the husband doubted the strength and ability of the wife to work all day. This shows they are oblivious to the role the women have in a home. Mothers are constantly at work and making sure everyone is perfectly settled and has the best they can give their children and husband. If was seen though the husbands pole that the families who in a higher social status were less willing to let their wife work, because they were already well off and didn’t need to risk their wives to make more money for the family. There was 25% of the wealthier people willing to let their wife work, but the families with lower income had a higher willingness of 35%[14]. Therefore, they could be making money from two people in the family, to help them out more. The majority of men did not have the faith in their file to work, but they also did not think their wife had the strength to do so.

Though, women were being disrespected in many ways they still never let that stop them and they do make a difference in the work force and war effort though the many jobs they did. With the many wen at war and the constant need for war supplies, there were large opening in the factory jobs across the nation[15]. With all the opening this gave women an opportunity to work and show their off abilities. During World War II the employment of women beginning in 1939 with 5.1 million increased to more than 7.25 million in 1943. By the time of September 1943 46% of all women ranging from ages 14-59 and 4% of the able women from ages 18-40 were placing into work at the National Service or in any form of work they could be given. Not only did the war effort bring women into many jobs, but also the large boom in the manufacturing field[16]. From 1941 to 1945 there were more than 400,00 women serving at home abroad working in many different fields. Differing in many different fields like mechanics, ambulance drivers’ pilots, administrates, nurses and more noncombat roles. There were so many in work that there were 88 women computed and were help as prisoners of war[17]. This may not be good that women were held as prisoners, but it shows how many women were working in not just an at home job anymore, yet women were now out living and working in the real world. Women were also but into factory jobs consisting of producing munitions, building and fixing ships and airplanes, drove trucks, radio operators, worked as laboratory technicians, rigged parachutes, and analyzed photos. Another variety of jobs were different auxiliary services like air, raid warden, evacuation officers, drivers of fire trucks, and nurses[18].

Women were not only placed in regular style jobs but were also allowed to begin working in the armed forces. In December of 1941 the government said single women ranging from the ages of 20-30 were allowed to work in Armed Forces, the Civil Defense or war industries[19]. There were almost 350,00 American women working in the home and in uniform and abroad volunteering for new organizations. There where tons of new originations focused upon women like the Women’s Army Corps (WAAC), Navy women’s Reserves (WAVES), Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARS), Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS), Army Nurses Corps, and Navy Nurses Corps. Women were taking jobs in uniform and cervical jobs in order to let the men leave their jobs, without worrying about leaving in the dust, to be able to fight for our country[20]. The women were also very involved in the air forces. In 1942 they realized that they did not have enough piolets so they turned to the women for help and crated the Women Airforce Service Piolets, WASP[21]. The women were very appreciated for their work, and they could bring about new skills that men did not have. As Landeck said about one of the flights is that “It is a very precise flight. They liked the women doing it. The women pilots had more patience.” Some of the mission’s women were sent to do were flying aircrafts all over the country, and test flew Newly fixed planes, they trained anti-aircraft artillery gunners by pretending to be the flying target. Women were put into some very dangerous flights and in a mission the plans they flew were not ready for combat and has missing parts. Resulting in 38 WASPs women to be killed[22]. They died for our country but sharing their courage and skills to the country in order to protect their country.

In World War II women had the opportunity to take a male figure jobs, and to do them better than men could. Women no longer must lay in bed at night wondering if there is more to their life, because they have proven themselves more than capable to work. Women also showed their devotion to their work no matter what job they were given and working in all sorts of different field, where ever they were needed they were there. Women have exemplified their capability though the doubts they faced and the results they gave.



[1] “History at a Glance: Women in World War II.” Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.nationalww2museum.org.

[2] “Women in the Workforce.” Accessed April 09, 2019.

[3] Hawkes, Sarah, et al. “Who Was Rosie the Riveter?” Accessed May 5, 2019. ushistoryscene.com. 

[4] “Women in the Workforce.” Accessed April 09, 2019.

[5] “History at a Glance: Women in World War II.” Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.nationalww2museum.org.

[6] Hawkes, Sarah, et al. “Who Was Rosie the Riveter?” Accessed May 5, 2019.

[7]  “Striking Women.” Accessed April 08, 2019. https://www.striking-women.org.

[8] “Striking Women.” Accessed April 08, 2019.

[9] “Striking Women.” Accessed April 08, 2019.


[10] Maurer, Kevin. “The Women Pilots of WWII.” Accessed April 20, 2019. https://www.ourstate.com.

[11] WOMENPOWER. PDF. Accessed April 09, 2019.

[12] WOMENPOWER. PDF. Accessed April 09, 2019

[13] WOMENPER. PDF. Accessed April 09, 2019

[14] WOMEN. PDF. Accessed April 09, 2019.

[15] Hawkes, Sarah, et al. “Who Was Rosie the Riveter?” Accessed May 5, 2019.

[16] “Striking Women.” Accessed April 08, 2019.


[17] Time Line: Women in the U.S. Military. PDF. Accessed April 09, 2019.

[18] “Striking Women.” Accessed April 08, 2019.

[19]  “Striking Women.” Accessed April 08, 2019.

[20] “History at a Glance: Women in World War II.” Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.nationalww2museum.org.

[21] Maurer, Kevin. “The Women Pilots of WWII.” Accessed April 20, 2019. https://www.ourstate.com.

[22] Maurer, Kevin. “The Women Pilots of WWII.” Accessed April 20, 2019. https://www.ourstate.com.


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