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The Women of World War II
Transcript of The Women of World War II
Four Main Concepts
Changing Images in Society
Women and the Military
Women and the Workforce
Women at Home and in the Community
The Government's Role
The single group most responsible for bringing about changes in women's image was the US government
Women in the Media
Women's image on the front lines
Pin-Ups were extremely popular on the front lines, 9 million copies of an ad-free issue of the magazine "Esquire" were distributed to the front lines.
The Baby Boomers
What ended this period of wartime progress for women was the end of the war. Soldiers coming home from war were eager to start families, and as a result women had to remain home to take care of their children
Changing Image in Society
WWII saw one of the most dramatic changes in the public image of women in American history.
Many women's organization started during the war.
Their purpose was to provide volunteers for civil defense organizations and the military
Women did many different jobs from providing medical care to being aerial spotters.
American Women's Voluntary Services
Largest volunteer organization
Founded by Alice Throckmorton McLean in 1940
Tasks included navigation, truck driving, fire fighting, emergency kitchens, and selling war bonds
Dissolved at the end of the war
American Red Cross
Volunteers collected blood and made supplies for surgical dressings
These efforts were critical in saving soldiers lives.
They also made/repaired clothing and assembled food and hygiene packages for troops overseas.
Women, who were traditionally homemakers at the time, were forced to ration once standard commodities.
Recycling was a considered a patriotic duty. Materials included metal and paper.
Victory gardens provided food to many families
The "Buy A Bomber" fundraiser allowed for production of 431 planes
Stamps could be purchased instead if a bond was too expensive
Children were encouraged to buy stamps
Women at Home and in The Community
Women who chose to continue their household duties and remain home often aided the war effort by volunteering.
Jobs Held By Women
About 70% of women working in the military held jobs that directly
military units. These jobs held a label of being "female" work.
Branches Of Service
Women were essential in maintaining the mechanisms that are necessary in warfare. Their participation also filled office jobs that would normally be held by men, thereby freeing more men to fight.
Women weren't only used as place holders though. When the American government realized how successful women militants were they tried to recruit another 1.2 million women, to which they were mostly unsuccessful, but this opened up a new respect for women.
Example Of Propaganda Film
Women in The Military
Women in War Production Plants
• Many women abandoned traditional jobs of domestic service to work in war production plants.
• Women also took on many jobs associated with maintaining the rails and trains over which critical war material and troops were shipped.
• The US government decided to launch a propaganda campaign to sell the importance of the war effort and to lure women into working through the fictional character “Rosie the Riveter”
• “Rosie the Riveter” was portrayed as the ideal woman worker: loyal, efficient, patriotic, and pretty. The image was ubiquitous during World War II.
"Rosie the Riveter"
Outcomes of Women's Labor
• With the help of women workers, total industrial production doubled between 1939 and 1945.
• Millions of artillery pieces and small weapons were crafted in factories during World War II, as were 300,000 aircraft, 12,000 ships, 86,000 tanks, and 64,000 landing craft.
• After the war, however, the cultural division of labor by gender resurfaced.
Women in The Workforce
With the onset of World War II, the United States government called for an increase in manufacturing and an increase in manpower. The door was thus opened for women in the labor force.
As the United States became more involved in WWII, it became apparent that women participation was going to be necessary to win the war.
The jobs held by women in the war weren't usually ones that involved fighting, but they were they were just as important to the cause.
For the first time women in the media were portrayed as strong and capable individuals, and not as second class citizens.
The Office of War Information started two propaganda campaigns in 1943 and 44, "Women int the War" and "Women in Necessary Services"
These ad campaigns influenced magazines, radio broadcasts, short films, and newspaper articles, who also used women as symbols of the home front
Trends in Propaganda
Other ads were meant to show women at home as physically and sexually vulnerable, so as to show men what they were "fighting for".
By December of 1941, 350,000 women served in the United States Armed Forces and had separated themselves into their own branches of service.
Importance To The War Effort
"Ladies, It's Your War Too"
* This also included the Nursing Corp.
The most common jobs were as typists, clerks, nurses, and teachers
The idea that the military could actually use female volunteers brought much controversy. For years America had been trying to instill the ideal that a woman's place was at home, but this went against that.
The average recruiting poster aimed at women used the image of a woman looking forward, head held high, chin up, and shoulders pulled back. Women were not portrayed as fragile and beautiful but instead bold and independent. The fact that the posters often had them stand alone showed their independence.
• The wages in these munitions plans and aircraft factories offered higher wages for women than almost all other jobs.
• Women who entered war production were primarily working-class wives, widows, and divorcees.
• In the cities, women took over traditionally male jobs such as taxi drivers, transit workers, and mail deliverers.
• So many women were needed for production that companies began to recruit women just graduating from high school.