Wartime Women in the 1940's

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Karen Anderson’s Wartime Women: “Sex Roles, Family Relations and the Status of Women during World War II” reexamines the various roles women occupied in wartime America. Anderson argues that though some historians they attribute women’s postwar employment changes simply to economics. Anderson implies that the 1940’s period played a more prominent role in developments, helping to accelerate the economic changes that would come after WWII. Moreover, though such studies exist in abundance today, in 1981 few historians explored the effects of living in a society with severe sex ratios. Anderson points out that despite continuing occupational sex segregation, a lack of appropriate child care, and the lingering negative attitudes regarding female employment, women persisted in gaining employment and opening doors for themselves and later generations. The necessities of wartime America undermined a somewhat sex segregated labor market and the ideas that perpetuated it. Lacking national uniformity, local municipal government and attitudes greatly influenced the breath of change. Such themes arose was mobilization where employed several rationales in convincing women to pursue employment among them patriotism, the prestige of war workers, and “a stress on women’s capacities for nontraditional work.” For women themselves, several factors encouraged them to find work. While patriotism remained one, others such as economic necessity, escape from the home, desire for social independence, and preventing loneliness or anxiety provide a few examples. Though rates of women’s participation in the workforce vary between Seattle, Detroit, and Baltimore. In all three over ninety percent of the women workers living in family groups contributed systematically to family upkeep, accustoming their families

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