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American Women And The World War Ii Factory Experience

5981 words - 24 pages

American Women and the World War II Factory Experience

After much consideration, I decided to write about American women on the home front during World War II. The work done by these brave women was astounding. In order to narrow the scope of my historical survey, I chose to focus particularly on the factory experience of these women, because the female factory worker challenged the existing societal belief of separate sex roles. In this sense, the female factory worker became a pioneer for the later expansion of women into careers that were largely considered “man’s work.”

My main interest has always been American history. I have been particularly interested in what has happened socially during periods of war. Former research projects, have included studies of Southern women during the Civil War, along with student demonstrations against the Vietnam War. I am enthralled with social history and the activities of those who are left at home during periods of national conflict. The behavior of American citizens on the home front often reflects changing cultural values-an evolution of society- for better or worse.

I am also vastly interested in those individuals that are not typically included in general historical surveys. A successful student of American history knows about Pearl Harbor and Normandy but very little about what their own grandmother did for the war effort. In my work I hope to offer a new and interesting perspective as to what women did to help win the war.

Historians specializing in the American home front, realize the prominence that women played in an American victory. Without these women, the labor force would have been severely weakened. Women war workers were quickly recruited, trained and placed in various jobs. Society was filled with a sense of urgency due to the war and women felt that they should help to play a part in the national drama. American propaganda and monetary incentives, along with following loved ones to the coast, were often the initial reasons of motivation for women to become employed in factory work.

After much research I began to notice that these factory women faced many challenges in their daily lives. First, there was the problem of finding adequate transportation to and from work. Once at work women often faced discrimination in the form of pay and from fellow workers. Perhaps married women faced the biggest strain. The primary duties of women were still considered to be that of wife and mother. For many married women a nine hour graveyard factory shift was added to the strain of finding child care and cooking meals within ration guidelines. Today these working women are prevalent in every aspect of society and for many of us such a woman may be our own very competent mother.

Despite the various social changes that I will discuss in my paper a social revolution did not occur. At the end of World War II many women were pleased, and eager, to return home....

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