Reina Farji

Altough United States did not wanted to enter the war that happened in 1939, the United States quikly commited themselves to total war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. That commitment included utilizing all the American resources and assest available, including women. The outlook in gender roles changed dramatically during World War II. Women had always been portrayed as the weak figure in society. They were always restricted to the domestic sphere, as good housewives, mothers, teachers and workers in textile industries. However once the war began women were introduced into the labor force and even into the battle field. These women would work in defense plants and volunteered for war related organizations in addition to managing their households. Once men left, women became proficient cooks, housekeepers, managed finances and learned to fix cars. Around 350,000 American women served in uniform, both at home and abroad, volunteering for the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs), the Navy Women’s Reserve (WAVES), the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARS), the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS), the Army Nurses Corps, and the Navy Nurse Corps.Even General Esienshower recognized that America could not win the war without the support of American women. These new organizations allowed women to serve in the military and portray a dominant figure such as captains and lieutants just like men. So in a sense it brought more equality to the table and broke that domestic sphere ideology that women just were useful to “make a sandwich and clean the house”.

One of the most inspirational and outstanding women in the history of Texas and the first woman to be awarded the U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal was colonel Oveta Culp Hobby. Born in Killeen Texas and attended the University of Texas two achieve two separate degrees, then she married William Hobby who was an ex-governor of Texas as and the publisher of the Houston Post. Colonel Hobby was given the job as one of the newspaper’s editors and many times focused on the War Department’s Women’s Interest section. However, as the war was going on and manpower was falling short, she decided to join the Women’s Army Corps. These women were the first to wear uniform after the military nurses. She became a colonel and was soon awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the first woman to ever receive the medal. In 1941 the U.S. Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall appointed her chief of the women’s division Bureau of Public Relations in the War Department.. He asked her to develop plans for a woman’s auxiliary branch of the army and to furthermore to train the women in a noncombatant military aspect in order to free men from those jobs.

In 1942 she created the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in (in 1943 became the Women’s Army Corps). Originally the volunteers included typists, stenographers and telephone operators that grew to add cryptographers, radio operators and sheet metal workers. By 1945 Colonel hobby had grown the WAC to 100,000 people.
United States needed the men to be in the battlefield fighting the war therefore they brought Colonel Hobby to organize the entire structure of the WAC. Although she wasn’t a major advocate for feminism she represented a major symbol for feminism that inspired and empower other women and future generation to eventually achieve equality between gender roles. “She wasn’t a strong campaigner of women’s rights, either and yet she stood as a great example of women’s liberation. I think for her it was a political decision” (Pando )

Once World War II was over she was appointed the first secretary of the new Department of Health Education and Welfare, then the Department of Health and Human Services. “She would get appointed to a committee, then, she would end up leading the committee, then she would eventually end up leading the entire organization”. She dedicated herself to that job for two years and then finally decided to come back to her family and to become the editor and president of the Houston Post.

In reality women like colonel Hobby made a huge impact in how society looked at gender roles and women. They also inspired other women to follow their lead in addition they really contributed to World War II, and created incredible organizations that enabled women until this day to be able to participate in fields were men were dominant and finally be recognized by men as equals rather than an inferior group .Women gained respect in and gained an important social role in wars and society that allowed for new changes to be brought along with gender roles.