How did World War 2 change the role of Women

How
did World War 2 change the role of Women

If you were born right now, this instant,
at youíre present age without any knowledge about how women used to be
treated, the assumption could be made that men and women are basically
equal. Yes, men are a little stronger physically, but overall the
two sexes are both equal. Things werenít always so picturesque, though.

Since people first settled here, on what is now the United States of America,
women were thought of as inferior. Ever so slowly though, the menís
view on women began to change. The change started in the 1920ís but
it was going slowly and needed a catalyst. World War II was that
catalyst. So much so that women ended up participating in the rise
of the United States to a global power.

In the late 19th century and early 20th
century, mostly in the U.S. women were thought of as inferior. Men
did anything they possibly could to prevent women from entering certain
parts of the industry, backing up their actions with "Men are stronger
than women". The majority of fighter planes were built by men and
it was also men who worked in most of the factories that produced cars
and other transportation vehicles, thus implying that technology was a
manís job. Women were relegated to being seamstresses, some were
secretaries, nurse, phone operators, and the majority were house wives.

The misnomer that very few women had jobs
back in the 30ís and 40ís, is not true. In fact, the majority of
women had jobs. Even during the Great Depression, almost all women
leaving school looked for jobs, and eventually found one. Of the
women born in 1915, 91% had a job by 1938, which was relatively good compared
to the 96% of men in the work force. Most women, however, quit their
jobs after getting married so by 1939, there were millions of housewives
with a variety of job experience. The untapped resource of high school
and college women made for potential recruits for the wartime labor force
(Campbell, p.73).

December 7th, 1941 had came and gone, with
the U.S. naval fleet being seriously damaged at Pearl Harbor by a series
of air and submarine attacks by the Japanese. This move gave the

Japanese temporary naval supremacy at the expense of a large portion of
the U.S. fleet. With that, President Roosevelt, who had been avoiding
entering the War, declared war on Japan and then eventually entering in
the war against Germany (Hayes, p.659). As a result of this declaration,
a military conscription was put into effect as the first step to the allocation
of soldiers. Thus where there were men in jobs before, there was
nobody and with that women flowed into factories and offices, taking over
jobs previously thought that only men could do (Palmer, Colton, p.719).

"May 22, 1942, will surely go down on the
record," predicted the Christian Science Monitor. "It was the day that
women joined up with the army..." It was obvious; the U.S. needed
a larger military force. Thus women joined the army within organizations.

From there came Oveta Culp Hobby, the director for the first American military
organization of women. This organization was called the WAAC (Womenís

Army Auxiliary Corps). Many people were impressed by the strength
of the WAAC and it is said that within three months, the AAF was discussing
the possibilities of obtaining more members of the WAAC (Weatherford, p.34).

In 1943 there was a U.S. male pilot shortage.

In August, the WASPS (Women Airforce Service Pilots), were formed to aid
the shortage. For the most part the WASPS werenít used for actually
fighting. They were used mainly used for ferrying bomber and fighter
planes from factories to airbases. Even in the Airforce, while helping
the men, women were still antagonized by the men. The WASPS lasted
only for one year and in 1944, when the male pilot shortage ended, a proposal
to make the WASPS a part of the Airforce was submitted. The proposal,
however, was narrowly defeated by the House of Representatives (Woloch,
p.462).

The U.S. used women as their "secret weapon".

Between 1940 and 1944, the amount of women employed increased by half going
from 12 million in 1940 to 18.2 million in 1944. The amount of women
in steel, machinery, shipbuilding, aircraft, and auto factories more than
quintupled to 1.7 million compared to 230,000 nearly five years prior.

The only other country who had women to backup the men when the men went
to war, was Britain (Campbell,