If we must die let it not be like hogs haunted and penned in
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If we must die, let it not be like hogs haunted and penned in
an inglorious spot, while round us bark the mad and hungry
gods, making their mock at our accursed lot. Like men we'll face
the murderous, cowardly pack, pressed to the wall, dying, but
-- Claude McKay
If you look in an encyclopedia under the heading "Men, Role of" you will not find any entry. Why is this? Why is there a special article about women and what they do? The fact is that women did the majority of the work during World War II, everything from welding to cooking. However, history tells of kings and presidents, explorers and revolutionaries, but only occasionally mentions a woman. What men do accounts for most of what goes on in the world today, but the work women did during World War II out - did the work men did during the war.
When 16 percent of the male work force trooped off to battle, and when immigration dropped off and some aliens returned to Europe to fight for their homelands, business recruited women to fill the vacancies. Munitions makers in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for example, dropped leaflets from airplanes urging women to work in their factories. Although the total number in the workforce increased slightly, the real story was that many changed jobs, sometimes moving into formally male domains. Some whit women left domestic service for factories, shifted from
clerking in department stores to stenography and typing, or departed textile mills, for employment in fire arms plants. At least 20 percent of all workers in the wartime electrical - machinery, airplane, and food industries were women. As white women took advantage of their new opportunities, black women took advantage of their place in domestic service and in textile factories. Overall, most working women remained concentrated in sex - segregated occupations as typists, nurses, teachers, and domestic servants.
Half a million women were estimated in the year 1942 to be serving their country in war industries. In some thirty plants they were making small - arms and artillery ammunition, where 40,000 women were employed in the last quarter of 1941, over70,000 were at work by late summer (U.S. Dept of Labor, 3 - 4). In some areas the women labor force was doubled, in others trebled, and some employed ten times as many women as before. These were chiefly new jobs, not jobs vacated by men. Many reports from all parts of the country showed that men called to war service actually was replaced by women in types of work formerly not done by women. Women replaced men as a group called classifiers. There were many types of work long done by women, but in which were taken on in large numbers, because of plant expansion as well as declining supply of male labor.
Despite the enlightened emancipation of women from the restrictions
and protections of bygone years, and their entry into many parts of
community life formerly considered to be reserved to men, a woman
is still regarded as the center of home and family life. (Freeman, 57).
Horizons expanded for the 16.4 million men and women who served in the
armed forces, seeing new parts of the world and acquiring new skills for future jobs. American women experienced mixed progress during the war. Although prohibited from engaging in combat, 350,000 women joined the armed forces and worked at a wide range of noncombat jobs, including as transport pilots and as nurses directly behind the front lines (U.S. Dept. Of Labor, 8). Also, women in the Naval Service were known as Waves, an acronym derived from Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service in World War II. About 86,000 women served in the Waves at its peak strength during the war. In 1948, Congress established Women in the Naval Service on a permanent basis. Waves serve alongside men in the medical and supply corps and in other noncombat fields such as personnel, administration, and communications. In 1978 more than 25,000 enlisted women were serving in the Waves (O'Connor,S.).
Furthermore, employers' negative attitudes toward women workers eased during the war, and millions of married - class women took jobs in war industries. For some, work was an economic necessity: for others, it was a patriotic obligation. Whatever the motivation, paying jobs
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Women in the workforce, Office work, Employment, Women in the Americas, Women in World War II
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