Women’s Economic Role In WWII

Coming only 21 years after the war to end all wars, World War II plunged the United States into yet another worldwide conflict.This brought significant changes to everyone’s lives, especially those of American women.Until the 1940’s, women usually got married at a young age.They did housework and took care of their children while their husbands went to work to support the family.In fact, during the depression, the federal government joined with local government, school boards, and private business to exclude married women from the work force (Woloch 301).All of this changed forever with the onset of World War II, which opened numerous opportunities for women.
During the Depression years of the 1930’s, many changes took place.Men were losing their jobs, and family life was severely stressed.”Middle class families had a sudden decline in status.In such families, wives often moved in to fill a power vacuum” (Woloch 285).”Contradictory pressures” were brought to bear upon women wage earners (Woloch 287).”Public attitudes urged them not to work, but economic circumstances both spurred wage labor and in some instances made jobs available” (Woloch 287).While there was significant job loss suffered by both men and women during these years, due to the “segregated occupational patterns” of women’s jobs and the fact that “men did not seek ‘women’s work,'” women were “protected to an extent” by a division of labor within the work force (Woloch 287).While many women maintained jobs, employment in some cases was very difficult.Wages were low and working conditions were unpredictable with “layoffs or speed-ups” (Woloch 288).While “Frances Perkins sat as Secretary of Labor in Franklin Roosevelt’s cabinet, massive male unemployment brought forth demands that married women be dismissed from jobs in order to spread the work” (Janeway x).At about this same time, the National Recovery Administration permitted lower minimum w…