Women's Employment During World War II

1022 Words5 Pages
1) During the Second World War, women proved that they could do "men's" work, and do it well. With men away to serve in the military and demands for war material increasing, manufacturing jobs opened up to women and upped their earning power. Yet women's employment was only encouraged as long as the war was on. Once the war was over, federal and civilian policies replaced women workers with men. 2) When the United States entered World War II in 1941, 12 million women were already working (making up one quarter of the workforce), and by the end of the war, the number was up to 18 million (one third of the workforce).[ However, while eventually 3 million women worked in war plants, the majority of women who worked during World War II…show more content…
More than 310,000 women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry in 1943, representing 65 percent of the industry’s total workforce (compared to just 1 percent in the pre-war years). The munitions industry also heavily recruited women workers, as represented by the U.S. government’s “Rosie the Riveter” propaganda campaign. Based in small part on a real-life munitions worker, but primarily a fictitious character, the strong, bandanna-clad Rosie became one of the most successful recruitment tools in American history, and the most iconic image of working women during World War II. In movies, newspapers, posters, photographs, articles and even a Norman Rockwell-painted Saturday Evening Post cover, the Rosie the Riveter campaign stressed the patriotic need for women to enter the work force—and they did, in huge numbers. Though women were crucial to the war effort, their pay continued to lag far behind their male counterparts: Female workers rarely earned more than 50 percent of male…show more content…
Much of the increased employment occurred in the years after 1940, and the 1940’s mark an apparent break with the past in terms of the women’s work. The participation rate in 1940 of the married women 35 to 44 years old was a little less but it increased in 1950 later on. In 1940’s it would appear, were a watershed in married women’s labor force participation. The timing of the initial advance in women’s employment and the extensive propaganda used to attract women into the labor force during the war, have led many to credit the World War II with spurring the modern increase in married women’s paid employment. The various explanations offered for the rise of married women’s paid employment still leave room for the impact of cataclysmic and unique events, such as World War II. Possible roles for the World War II can be found on both the supply and demand sides of the market. Women were drawn into the war-time economy through a variety of mechanisms. For some, increased wages, in general and specifically for women were the main factor. A husband’s absence meant a wife had less to do at home, and patriotic duty was reason enough for others to join the war
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