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Women During the Second World War

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Introduction

Prior to World War 2 women had their basic household duties, clean, cook, take care of kids. These and other various activities were done by mostly women in that time period. But this could not last forever, something was bound to happen to make a shift in the daily life of a women. That event being World War 2. The women’s role in World War 2 are not as talked about and praised in todays world as much as the Male role. The male role in World War 2 was just as strenuous as the women’s role. But this effort and hard work done by women has not been recognized as much. Women during this time had left their families to learn and adapt to new skills, some filling what was considered male jobs. They also started organizations to help aid others during World War 2, this was just to list a few they just like men did a surplus amount of work in order to help their chances and others of survival of world war 2. So why is it that Women have not been given as much credit as men?

Serving in the Army

Women took on various roles of men “350,000 women served in the armed forces during world war 2” (Salman Khan Source 1) This a very large number of women to be serving in the armed forces. Especially since they are participating in the armed forces, while women were often portrayed as fragile or too feminine. This number wasn’t just limited to white women “Minority women served in war effort as well, African American women served in black-only units” (Salman Khan source 1) while it was segregated women of all races participated in the aid of World War 2. They put their lives on the line just as much as men did. What most would suspect for them to stay at home with the children and cook and clean all day, they instead went out and got their hands dirty in real workforce. In the armed forces they had their lives at stake but with great power they took on these roles. Like Mrs.

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Barbara Drew who “instead of her watching the children her husband did and she went out to volunteer” (Casey Johnson Source 3) Barbara Drew took the opportunity to go out and help. She knew exactly what was at risk but decided to take that risk and have her husband who would naturally be the one to go out and fight in the battle stay at home with the children. Almost like a role reversal. In an interview done by Casey Johnson Barbara Drew “as well as being a homemaker, Mrs. drew did volunteer work for civilian defense” (Casey Johnson Source 3) While making sure her children were taken care of, she also went out and helped with civilian defense. She explains in the interview “She was taught how to evacuate children, elderly from coastal areas to mountains” (Casey Johnson source 3)

This was very important as many civilians were in the need of being transported from one area to another to ensure their survival. Her being able to do so shows how vital she was in the aid of World War 2. She was not alone in this she also explains how “Eight of nine of her friends would learn how to change tires on trucks and drove these army trucks.” (Casey Johnson Source 3) she also explains how she was apart of an organization which “studied topography, mechanics, drove trucks” (Casey Johnson source 3) These women together were able to for an organization in order to help others. Even though they may have not been on the field their roles were just as big with helping civilians endure world war 2.

Working at the Factory

“Most women in the Labor force during world war II did not work in the defense industry majority took over factory jobs” (Salman Khan Source 1) As more and more men were off to combat factory jobs opened up. Women saw this opportunity and took it. Roughly “350,000 American women joined the military during world War II worked as nurses, drove trucks, performed clerical work to free up men for combat” (Salman khan source 1) In order to get more men in on the front lines there current jobs needed to be filled, this is where women came in and took care of that for them. One woman specifically Katherine O’Grady explains in a interview done by Kathy O’Grady her experience during world war II she “worked at a woolen mill, when the war started wool was very important.” (Kathy O’Grady Source 4) Her job was vital as when the war had just begun it was needed more than ever. Katherine “was a mom as well, had a son and still worked at the mill each day.” (Kathy O’Grady Source 4)

This shows the duality of a women her and many women had families but still went out and put themselves to work in order to provide for their family but as well as others serving in the war. Katherine also discuss some information about how things were during wartime she explains that “beef was short, downtown people sold horse meat, bought a couple pounds and cooked a couple steaks.” (Kathy O’Grady Source 4) this gives a little bit of insight of what life was during this time of war they had to resort to eating horse meat. She goes on to explain that “after the war things changed for women as they could go out and they could survive” (Kathy O’Grady source 4) This was a big achievement for women as they weren’t seen as important enough or just really not good for anything else but staying at home with the kids. For them to be able to go out and live their lives just how men do. Katherine Grady who “Grew up in East Province, moved back to Boston…. Making her own money” (Kathy O’Grady source 4) Katherine was able make her own money and sustain a life for herself which is a big step up and shows how much World war II had changed the role and how people perceive women.

Other Types of Jobs

Women not only participated in defense they had numerous occupations during war time. For example, “Therese Bonney, Photographer from 1894-1978, images of homeless children and adults touched millions of viewers in the U.S and abroad.” (Library of congress source 2) This occupation was important because civilians might have not known the effects of world war II, so it opened up a new side to the war. Taking off the blindfold of many people which helped bring more aid to people affected by the war. Some of images taken by photographers had great intentions for example, “Frizzell’s images of elite corps of African American fighter pilots were intended to encourage positive public attitudes about the fitness of blacks to handle demanding military jobs” (Library of congress Source 2) Because blacks were not seen as good enough to handle jobs as well as a white man could images taken by Frissell they were able to aid I helping change the mind of the public and letting people know blacks were just as capable as any white man. “Toni Frissell, volunteered her photographic services to red cross, produced thousands of images of nurses, front line soldiers. Frissell was really able to live out the saying a picture is worth a thousand words. Her photographs were able to reach millions and help millions of people too. From bringing positive energy to capturing a very monumental moment in human history. “Frizzell’s work supported the publicity objectives of her subjects, photographs devised to counter negative public perception of women in uniform” (Library of congress source #2) Again Frissell was able to progress women view in a positive way and really shine a new light on people’s perspective of women. She wasn’t the only one shining a new light on women, “Therese Bomey published newspapers, magazines, one woman shows, films, etc., even a heroine of a wartime comic book” (library of congress Source 2) Her work showed that woman could play the hero and that they were just as important as anyone else. This was a very important realization.

Anne Bosanko was another woman who spoke about her experience in world war II. “Anne Bosanko was a W.A, C private in 1945” (Anne Bosanko Green source 5) Her job was to “wash pipes, rafters, bed springs, polish.” (Anne Bosanko Green source 5) Her job was just as important as any others she explains how “little time to our selves40 minute classes, physical training, drill, indoctrination course.” (Anne Bosanko Green source 5) She explains it as ‘almost being in the army” and the conditions were almost as if they were in the army. Her and many other women endured this and played a very important role. “women were actively deployed in civil defense schemes as overnight fire watchers in factories, drivers, air raid wardens, etc.” (striking women source 7) “Because of assigned jobs women were at risk from bombing but were entitled to lower compensation for injuries” (Striking women Source 7) T

hese women were at risk of potentially losing their lives but were not given equal compensation for it, this caused a uproar and “women went on a strike for a week in October 1943, agreement was met on a set wage.” (striking women Source 7) Women knew that they needed to be compensated and deserved the same pay as men, after all they were going through the same injuries as them why would their gender come in between the amount of compensation they get for it. Progressing forward even “despite initial government opposition equal rates were introduced in April 1943,” (Striking women Source 7) This was huge as women were finally getting equal rates and because the employment rate for women skyrocketed “the need for nurseries increased, established 1345 nurseries.” (striking women source 7)

Rosie the Riveter and Gender Gap

In order to encourage women to stand and go out into the world a famous character was made her name being Rosie the Riveter. “Rosie the Riveter, was propaganda to reassure men that the demands of war would not make women too masculine.” (Salman khan Source 1) Men were worried that the war would change women so much that they would almost turn masculine. But because Rosie worked but also looked beautiful at the same time this reassured a lot of men that their women too would be the same. For women “Bandanna-clad Rosie became one of the most successful recruitment in American history.” (History Source 6) Rosie was able to attract a lot of women into coming and getting their hands dirty. The “campaign stressed the need for women to enter the work force,” (History source 6) women were encouraged and inspired by Rosie to go and help with world war II. Only one thing was wrong with this whole situation. “Although women were crucial pay was not good, rarely earned more than 50% of male ages.” (History source 6) This was one of the biggest problems because women were doing the same work, they should too get paid the same amount of men.

Conclusion

In sum both women and men of all colors and backgrounds were involved in world war II it was not just whites, or just blacks, or just women, it was every single one of us. Because of this both women and men should receive equal recognition and praise. Women did various things in order to fight in the war. They did not just become the typical nurse, they became fire watchers, pilots, drivers, and many more things. They were able to change millions of people’s perspective of women as a whole. Prior to this time women were child bearers, wives, homemakers. But women were able to change that and stand up and actually get their hands dirty in order to help millions. Both Men and women were truly vital in the aid of world war II not separately but equally together.

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