USA - A Divided Union 1941-80
The Role of Women in WW2
How did the lives and social status of women change during WW2?
Quick Links - WWII - Women, Blacks, Economy; Women in 1950s, McCarthyism, Civil Rights Reasons, Montgomery, Little Rock, Tactics, Successes; Black Power, Youth and Students, Women's Movement, JFK's New Frontier, Johnson's Great Society, Watergate
Keywords are explained down the page
Before the war few women followed careers. Most jobs for women were ‘traditional’ roles such as nursing, secretarial or caring jobs.
workers were needed to fill their places in the
factories. This changed the traditional views
of women. Job opportunities in munitions
factories for working-class women allowed
to earn a much higher wage than before.
Women became machinists, lumberjacks,
dockers and railway engineers.
changed – people supported these changes.
In 1939 only 36 women were employed in shipbuilding. By 1943 the number was 200,000.
in the armed forces
Some 300,000 women served in the army, navy and nursing corps, and a quarter of these served overseas.
Women were portrayed in the traditional ‘young
and good-looking’ way in beauty parades for
in the armed services.
However images of working women were also
used to help change the stereotypes –
Rosie the Riveter was a fictional character used
in propaganda and news reports to encourage
women to take up ‘man’s work’.
Use a Quote! Examiners love them!
remember a woman saying on the bus
she hoped the war didn’t end until
got her refrigerator paid for.” –
Peggy Terry describes life
“The Good War” by
munitions - bullets, shells and bombs
machinists - factory machine operators
lumberjacks - timber workers
dockers - harbour and dockyard workers
stereotypes - a fixed idea of something or someone
propaganda - information intended to influence people
Click above to try a revision exercise
A great student page about Rosie (USA)
Loads of web links to explore (USA)
Lots of US war posters aimed at women