Before the war few women followed careers. Most jobs for women were ‘traditional’ roles such as nursing, secretarial or caring jobs.
Women in industry
Millions of men joined the armed forces, more
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
them to earn a much higher wage than before.
Women became machinists, lumberjacks,
dockers and railway engineers.
Attitudes changed – people supported these changes.
In 1939 only 36 women were employed in shipbuilding. By 1943 the number was 200,000.
Women in the armed forces
Some 300,000 women served in the army, navy and nursing corps, and a quarter of these served overseas.
How did the role of women change?
Women were portrayed in the traditional ‘young
and good-looking’ way in beauty parades for
women 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’.