Women In World War Ii Wilston State History Essay

954 words - 4 pages

In June 1942, World War II came to Australia’s shores with the attack on Sydney Harbour by the Japanese. At first, the government politely discouraged any women to become involved in the war but it soon became apparent that the war was going to demand much more than the Australian Government expected (State Library of Victoria, 2015). Women’s work then became multi-faceted as they ran the household, carried the emotional burden for their close ones in the war and took on a role in industry (Skwirk, 2015). Although their new jobs were equivalent to men’s work, women were only paid about two thirds of men’s wages (Australian Government, 2015). Any attempts to make this pay equal ended in defeat as women were opposed by male dominated unions and government (Skwirk, 2015). The changes in the role of women between the years 1939-1945 earned the new respect and admiration which laid the foundations for women’s equality in the future.
The Women’s Australian Auxiliary Air Force (WAAAF) was the first of the World War II Australian Women’s Services, and instigated change in the perception of women across the country. Despite some resistance from members of the War Cabinet, it was formed in February 1941 with the aim to replace male wireless telegraph operators for service in the war (The Australian Women’s Register, 2013). As many members of the WAAAF worked in laborious skilled technical work, communications, maintenance and mechanics, this was a big step up from the traditional roles women had before the war. (Department of Veteran’s Affairs, 2008). The hours were long, the work was hard and the living conditions were not very hospitable either, as an account from an ex personnel states: “…because of the stifling heat at nights, we frequently moved our straw filled paillasse out onto the balcony for relief.” (ABC, 2012). Despite this, the women involved often enjoyed their time at WAAAF as they gained independence, lifelong friendships, skills and the feeling that they helped contribute to winning the war (Department of Veteran’s Affairs, 2008). Although many people supported women emerging from traditional roles, not everyone believed that they were helping the war effort. Often men were opposed to their contribution, making claims that women couldn’t do a man’s job properly and that they were a detriment to the war effort (Quinn, 1998, p.95). As the war continued however, men realised that women were an irreplaceable assistance, and without their efforts, winning the war might not have been possible (Department of Veteran’s Affairs, 2008). The opportunities that opened for women did not disappear once war was over and the WAAAF was disbanded; the WAAAF influenced the formation of the Women’s Royal Australian Air Force in 1951 (The Australian Women’s Register, 2013). While it was some years until the first female fighter pilot, World War II influenced...

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