American Women of World War II
Without the help of American women during the second World War, the Allies’ win would most likely not have been possible. Women held military jobs, worked at defense factories, helped the war effort from home, and several even served bravely for our country on the front line.
The sheer amount of help that was provided from American women during World War II was able to keep our nation’s military and economy strong throughout the time. With Rosie the Riveter supplying them with their battle cry, “We Can Do It,” American women helped the Allies become victorious. Read on to learn more about the overwhelming contributions of American women in the World War II era. Women in the Workforce Because of the number of men who left their jobs to fight in the military, job openings were everywhere. Also, due to the war, factories were producing war materials and supplies at incredible rates.
But with all the men off fighting, women stepped up to the plate and took on the task of working to support the war effort. To encourage women, “The government launched a propaganda campaign to lure women into the workforce (ushistoryscene.com).” Rosie the Riveter was a symbol for the working women, she was an ideal worker- loyal, efficient, and patriotic. Her famous saying, “We Can Do It!” inspired many women to join the workforce. Rosie was based off an actual women named Rosina Bonavita, an airplane factory worker (Kallen 67).
Titling themselves the “Soldiers Without Guns” or “Dames for Defense,” women patriotically served their country during the second World War by working at defense factories. Defense factories were factories that usually made manufactured goods, but during the war, made war materials such as guns, uniforms, and even airplanes and tanks. It took some persuading by the government to get businesses to finally hire women. “They learned to holler and curse right alongside their tough, male coworkers (Kallen 68).” But, women that worked in the factories had low wages, even lower than those of the teenage boys who worked along side them. The unemployment rate of this time was extremely low, due to the demand for wartime materials.
Women from all different backgrounds and of different ages were working. “By 1944, 1 out of 5 defense workers was a woman who had recently been a student., and 1 out of 3 defense workers were former full-time homemakers (women that took care of their households) (www.ushistoryscene.com).” Also, with men gone off to war, women had to take other jobs as well.
They had jobs like driving taxis, garbage trucks, and ambulances.They took jobs that were still needed despite it’s relevance towards the war, such as plumbers and firefighters. Women also became engineers, mechanics, and nurses. Women on the Homefront What was daily life like for American women during the second World War? Women had to adjust their lives extremely to cope with the war. After a long day of working, which they weren’t used to, women still had to maintain their household. Seeing as one third of the defense workers had been homemakers, they still had children and home to take care of.
Rationing, or only being allowed a certain amount of something, done by the government, was a big part of their lives. There were materials needed to make explosives that were rationed, such as sugar cane. Also, materials such as nylon and silk were no longer available, so women got creative to deal with the shortages. Due to the clothing shortages, women started wearing pants instead of skirts, and two piece swimsuits became to new fashion. Also, since nylon was not available, women wore “bottled stockings,” where they painted their legs to simulate the look of stockings (Kallen 40, 41).
A large influence on the American Women during this era was Eleanor Roosevelt, the president’s wife. Roosevelt worked on getting civilians to volunteer and sign up to help the war effort, as well as organized fundraisers. She also traveled around Europe to help encourage U.S. troops serving our country (www.
biography.com). Women in the Military World War II was the very first time that women served in the military. Thousands of women rushed to their call of duty and signed up for military programs. Though women went under severe scrutinization by their male superiors that weren’t used to women working with them, their need to serve their country was even stronger. Women served in the Coast Guard, the Army, the Navy, the Marines, and the Air Force, and over 300,000 women would serve by the end of the war (Kallen 26, 27) The Women’s Army Corps (WAC) was one of the few programs that women could have joined.
The women in the WAC were sent to Fort Des Moines, Iowa in 1942 to begin their training. “Unlike their counterparts in the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps, WACs could be stationed anywhere, including behind the lines in the battlefield (www.womenofwwii.com).” The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) was never an actual part of the Air Force, but in 1977 former WASPs were granted World War II veteran status.
Created in August of 1943, “These women pilots were used to fly planes within the US, to free up male combat pilots for overseas duty (www.womenofwwi.com)” The Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) were an official part of the United States Navy fromt the very beginning. At first, WAVES strictly served on the continental U.S., but were eventually sent to Hawaii towards the end of the war.
WAVES were given the same pay as male personnel and had the same ranks and rating (www.womenifwwii.com). The Women’s Reserve of the Coast Guard (known as the SPARS) remained in the United States and simply relieved men of their duty so they could fight in the war. Unlike the WAVES, the SPARS were not allowed to issue orders to male servicemen (www.
womenofwwii.com). Women in the military also held military jobs. There were 235 jobs, in which they “Drove trucks, flew planes, operated control towers, repaired equipment, and mastered Morse Code (Kallen 26, 27).” Women were also typists, clerks, and mail sorters. “Although these jobs may have been less glorified that those of the men fighting on the front lines, women were essential in maintaining the bureaucratic mechanisms that are necessary in warfare.
(libguides.mnhs.org).” But, over 59,000 women served as nurses in the second World War. (www.
womenofwwii.com). They served near the frontlines and under fire in field and evacuation hospitals. The skill of the nurses kept the post injury mortality rate extremely low (www.womenofwwii.com).
There were several notable women that served bravely in World War II. Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran is one of the many. She was the founder of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots, and she “Was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal for services to her country during World War II. (www.womenofwwii.com).
” Lieutenant Commander Mildred H. McAfee was a very important women from WWII. She was the first female commissioned officer in the United States Navy, and the first director of the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services. Without these two women, the amount of contribution from women in the military would not be possible. Conclusion Overall, the time and effort that women gave to the war effort is almost overwhelming. Support from the homefront, defense factories, and the military, all from women, helped the United States from going in debt, and also from losing the war.
American Women in World War II helped the war effort immensely, and without the help of the women, the war could have gone a completely different way. References “Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.” 2014. The Biography.com website.
Apr 10 2014 http://www.biography.com/people/eleanor-roosevelt-9463366. History.com Staff. “Eleanor Roosevelt.
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” US History Scene. 1 July 2012. http://www.ushistoryscene.com/uncategorized/rosietheriveter/ “Women in WWII At A Glance.” The National WWII Museum.
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“Women in the Military- WWII.” Minnesota History Center. NA. 5 April 2014. http://libguides.mnhs.org/wwii_women