Vuick 1 Shayna Vuick English II Honors Mrs. Ligon 11 April 2011 U. S Women During World War II When the United States entered World War II most of the men at home were sent overseas to fight against the axis powers. When the men were sent overseas there was a shortage of workers created on the home front and to offset the shortage women began to work. When women entered the work force it initiated a change in their social standing that brought them to where they are today. In the 1940s women lacked the rights that they have today.
During World War II, women entered the work place and for the first time, challenged male prejudice and social order. After the United States entered World War II women were needed to run the factories but most factories were reluctant to hire women because the work that needed to be done was thought to be work that only a man could do. Factories waited until there was no one left to hire but women. Eventually more than six million women entered the work force (Bailey33). When women entered the work force the conditions of factories improved greatly.
One way conditions improved was the creation of cafeterias so that the women had somewhere to eat. Another improvement was cleanliness because factory owners started to keep the work areas cleaner and started to provide bathrooms and showers for their workers. Most people like to think that women entered the work force due to patriotism but most of the women went to work for the money. Some women were deterred from working because of health risks. One of the worst health risks were riveters ovaries that were caused by too much vibration from the Vuick 2 achines and kept women from having babies (Bailey88). The benefits outweighed the risks and women began to work to help their country and their families. The most well known woman of the time was Rosie the Riveter who was the poster girl for women joining the work force. The women of the time admired her and aspired to be just like her. Most of the working women at the time even dressed like her. She was everything the government wanted in a woman worker; she was loyal, efficient, patriotic, compliant and even pretty. The idea of Rosie came from a song and a painting.
Rosie’s song was written and sung by a male quartet called the Four Vagabonds. After the song Norman Rockwell’s image of her received mass distribution on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post in 1943. Rockwell’s painting showed a brawny woman named Rosie taking her lunch break sitting with a rivet gun on her lap and a copy of Hitler’s manifesto Mein Kampf under her boot (Yellin 43). Rosie was one of the most successful recruitment tools in American history. During World War II women, for the first time, started to work in the armed forces.
The only branch of the armed forces that treated the women completely equal was the navy. WAVES or Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service was an official part of the Navy, and its members could hold the same rank as male personnel. A large proportion of the WAVES did clerical work but some took positions in the aviation community, medical professions, communications, intelligence, storekeeping, science and technology. The women also received the same pay and were subject to military discipline (Yellin115).
The Women’s Army Corps or WAC was the women’s branch of the U. S army. The WAC was created as an auxiliary unit, the WAAC or Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps on May 15 1942 and was converted to a full status army branch as the WAC in 1943 (Yellin34). The WAC duties consisted of things like Vuick 3 transportation, communications, light weapons repair, quartermasters. Even though women did not fight on the front lines they were considered a part of the military and played a large role in the running of the military.
Many women sacrificed their way of life and their families well being to work because they wanted to help their country. In addition to working most women were still housewives. The conditions of women’s home lives greatly diminished. Many women moved just to work and lived in trailer camps. As more women went to work divorce rates and child neglect rates rose (Home Front142). Women had to make do with what they had because of rationing. The U. S rationed many foods and women learned to make many different meals with hem. Many women did manage to work and take care of their homes by taking special night shifts where they could watch the children in the day and work the factories at night. Even though everybody was needed for the war effort African-American women were still excluded. When African-American women applied for jobs they were given the dirtiest and least wanted ones. When the women worked in factories they were still forced to eat and work in other parts of the factories than the white women.
The WAVES did not accept African-American women into the division until late 1944, at which point they trained one black woman for every 36 white women enlisted in the WAVES (Yellin210). Even in a time of need African-American women were treated badly when all they wanted to do was help their country. By the end of the war women had produced 269,429 airplanes, 102,351 tanks and guns, 87,620 ships, 47 tons of artillery ammunition, and 44 billion rounds of small arms ammunition (Ward102).
After the end of the war women were expected to go back to their regular lives. All of the factories layed off their women because all of the factory jobs had been promised to the Vuick 4 men who were coming home. Women did not want to go back to the way things where before because they finally knew what it was like to work and earn their own money and they liked it. World War II kick started the women’s rights movement and changed women’s social status forever.