Rosie the Riverter Gets Married:
This story is all about Women and their roles during and after World War II.
World War Two opened the door of opportunities to women all over the country. Women were given the chance to take up new occupations, express themselves however they pleased, and to promote their sexuality publicly.
With all these new opportunities also came quite a few hardships. Women were forced to deal with sending their husbands, sons, and brothers off to war with the fear of them possibly not returning. Relocating was also a very popular trend during the war. If a woman's husband was stationed somewhere in the United States, that is where the family lived.
When the war itself broke out after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, new "emergency callings of strength and sacrifice emerged." Women were ready to go to work wherever they were needed, and many businesses and factories were even "recruiting" them in herds. Women entering the workforce was seen as a "Patriotic Duty" in the eyes of the United States, so therefore the taking of mens job's was widely accepted. Because women were taking on the jobs that men previously worked, "gender- neutral lines brought an end to sex segregation in the workplace." Women often went to work without having many issues concerning their gender or lack of experience.
What came as a shocking surprise to the country was the fact that during the war, Marriage and Childbearing became exceptionally popular. Many actually expected the exact opposite to happen, but the truth was nearly one million new families emerged between 1940-1942.
In the workplace, "the fastest growing group was married women who took jobs during the war in record numbers." This was due to the fact that single women were looked down upon ( they were seen as promiscuous and walking around with diseases, as well as a disruption to normal family life) and not let into the workplace as easily. Also the age of women marrying was getting lower and lower as the war progressed. It was easier for older married women to work because they did not have to care for children because they were already older, and they already knew what to expect when entering their new jobs (many saw the women head to work during world war one, this was no surprise to them).
"Although more and more women were welcomed into the paid labor force, most of them still ended up in low paying, sex-segregated jobs."
This was largely due to the fact that women were still looked down upon if they took on a job that was previously held by a man. They were often called "masculine" and "not lady-like" for working these higher paying jobs, and that scared many women out of wanting to apply for those types of jobs. However, women did fight for better working conditions and higher wages, and they even attempted to have bills passed and put into law protecting the rights of women in the workplace. Despite all the numerous attempts to gain acceptance and respect in the workplace, all the bills were voted down, equal pay never came, sexual harrassment often continued, and better working conditions remained the same. *** Automobile companies rarely hired women to work for them because they were completely against the idea of having women work for them.***
Some women did luck out and held higher positions in the workplace. For example, Almira Bondelid worked for a company that built parts for the Boeing B-24 bombers. She was in charge of designing long drills and bulk heads for the wings and hull of the airplanes. These jobs were very important during the war, but once it ended, they were immediately given back to the returning war veterans.
Women were also allowed to enter any area of the armed forces as long as they were not put in combat. Many women jumped on this opportunity and quickly adapted to life as a soldier, nurse, or corpsmen. However, women had to maintain their feminine qualities and not lose touch with their houshold skills. Lesbians had to act feminine to get into the armed forces because the government wanted to preserve the tradition of the "typical American women." ***Childbirth was considered an honorable discharge in the armed forces***
There were some negative effects for women that were in the armed forces. there was a double standard when men were given contraceptives to prevent them from catching diseases (from women of course) and women were not allowed to have or use birthcontrol pills.
There were many things that changed in the United States during World War Two. Women were given many opportunities to try different things and work in different areas. The rate of marriages and childbearing skyrocketed and nearly trippled during the war. Millions of women chose to do volunteer work in their communites and help with the war effort in any way they could. Hollywood's actors and actresses even took part in the war effort and played the roles of the typical man and women during the war!
***Betty Grable was the #1 pinup girl for men serving in the war***
Once the war was over, women had to return to their normal lives and leave their jobs. They were immediatly encouraged to go back to working in the home and either take care of children or start out their families. Although the 1940's brought major changes during the war, once it was over, those changes seemed to be over as well.