If you were born right now, this instant, at you’re present age without any knowledge about how women used to be treated, the assumption could be made that men and women are basically equal. Yes, men are a little stronger physically, but overall the two sexes are both equal. Things weren’t always so picturesque, though. Since people first settled here, on what is now the United States of America, women were thought of as inferior. Ever so slowly though, the men’s view on women began to change. The change started in the 1920’s but it was going slowly and needed a catalyst. World War II was that catalyst. So much so that women ended up participating in the rise of the United States to a global power.
In the late 19th century and early 20th century, mostly in the U.S. women were thought of as inferior. Men did anything they possibly could to prevent women from entering certain parts of the industry, backing up their actions with “Men are stronger than women”. The majority of fighter planes were built by men and it was also men who worked in most of the factories that produced cars and other transportation vehicles, thus implying that technology was a man’s job. Women were relegated to being seamstresses, some were secretaries, nurse, phone operators, and the majority were house wives.
The misnomer that very few women had jobs back in the 30’s and 40’s, is not true. In fact, the majority of women had jobs. Even during the Great Depression, almost all women leaving school looked for jobs, and eventually found one. Of the women born in 1915, 91% had a job by 1938, which was relatively good compared to the 96% of men in the work force. Most women, however, quit their jobs after getting married so by 1939, there were millions of housewives with a variety of job experience. The untapped resource of high school and college women made for potential recruits for the wartime labor force (Campbell, p.73).
December 7th, 1941 had came and gone, with the U.S. naval fleet being seriously damaged at Pearl Harbor by a series of air and submarine attacks by the Japanese. This move gave the Japanese temporary naval supremacy at the expense of a large portion of the U.S. fleet. With that, President Roosevelt, who had been avoiding entering the War, declared war on Japan and then eventually entering in the war against Germany (Hayes, p.659). As a result of this declaration, a military conscription was put into effect as the first step to the allocation of soldiers. Thus where there were men in jobs before, there was nobody and with that women flowed into factories and offices, taking over jobs previously thought that only men could do (Palmer, Colton, p.719).
“May 22, 1942, will surely go down on the record,” predicted the Christian Science Monitor. “It was the day that women joined up with the army...” It was obvious; the U.S. needed a larger...