Impact of World War II on American Women
The Second World War helped in revolutionizing gender roles in America. Prior to the war, less than 25% of American women worked outside the home. However, the large number of male enlistments into the war nearly crippled America’s factories and economy. To avoid such a tragedy, a campaign known as ‘Rosie the Riveter’ was introduced (Bryant, 2009). The purpose of the campaign was to stress that it was a patriotic duty of American women to join the workforce. The campaign saw a dramatic increase of women in the workforce. Female participation in the workforce increased from a palsy 25% to 37% between 1940 and 1945. By 1945, nearly one out of every four married women was working outside the home.
During this time, more than 350,000 women enlisted in various factions of the American Armed Forces. The Women’s Army Corps was instituted in 1942 held more than 200 non-combatant jobs and participated in every war theatre. The aviation industry saw the most dramatic rise in female workers. The members of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots became the first women to fly American aircrafts in the country’s history (Bryant, 2009). Approximately 310,000 women joined the aviation industry, representing 65% of the industry’s total workforce. Before the war, women represented only 1% of the industry’s total workforce.
The war ended in 1945 but it had far-reaching effects on the American women. Women gained confidence, strength, and mobility from working in factories and in the Armed Forces. They had proven to themselves that they had much more to offer than what society had dictated was their limit. The war was a way for average women to venture out of the home where they had been confined. Now that they could work, and perhaps offer better services than men offer, they could now demand for better salaries and more opportunities for promotion. The War was a form of emancipation for women folk in America.
Bryant, J. (2009, Feb 3). How War Changed The Role of Women in the United States. Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. Retrieved on 31/3/2016 from http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/2002/3/02.03.09.x.html