Obert, Cy

women in war

Women during World War II for the United States were imperative to the victory. However, their social roles greatly differed from their roles before and even after the war, too. Prior to the war, women were primarily expected to be mothers and stay at home to run the household. Duties included caring for the children, cleaning, and cooking as well, leaving the source of income up to the man of the house. In fact, some places would not even let married women work at their business. However, once the men were off at war, women answered the call to a new social role.

The new role women embodied was one that was almost equivalent to that of a man pre-war.  It allowed women to enter the workplace both on the industrial side and the armed forces side. Many women had new opportunities to be engineers and managers, along with an array of other jobs that were previously considered solely reserved for men. Also, some 350,000 women joined the armed forces both on US soil and abroad. Soldiers abroad needed care, clothes, food, supplies, and other things, thus women accommodated those needs. Likewise, they furthered their services by serving, too. In the armed forces, women served as nurses, but also eventually were used in combat and as aviators, flying military equipment and personnel. These military demands paired with social and political urges all helped women emerge to the work scene, as well as facilitating this social role shift. Women no longer were restricted to certain societal roles and were seen as more equal to men. Many opportunities given to women during this era later ignited the spark that became the second wave of feminism during the 1960’s; however, many women did revert to the typical stay-at-home mother during the “baby boom” after the war. All in all, the social role of women during the war was one of adaptability, as they not only answered the call to maintain households but also compromise a major, an incredibly important role in the workforce as well.

https://www.nwhm.org/online-exhibits/partners/1.htm (picture)