Women In War Essay

This essay has a total of 1589 words and 8 pages.

Women In War



For women, wartime was considered “the best years of their lives” by some people and
historians. Not only did women come to the country’s aid in time of need, they also
started the concept of women having a job.

The idea of women at work during World War II was not utterly new. In the previous years
of World War I, women were nursing sisters, volunteers, and there were even some women in
the Navy. Before “the war to end all wars”, work was considered a man’s job. Normally, a
woman’s place was in the house tending to her children, and doing housework such as
cleaning and cooking. If a lady had a job, the job would usually be as a teacher,
librarian, sales clerk, or secretary but it would never require hard labor. (Encarta 98;
World Book Encyclopedia; World at War, p.31)

As World War II came around however, the situation changed. Men were starting to be
drafted as part of the air force, military, and other war related jobs. Men left their
working positions to answer their call of duty, therefore leaving many empty jobs. Since
there was such a shortage of workers, some immigrants took vacant jobs, but many more
workers were still needed. The lack of employees led to advertisements encouraging women
get a job.

One of the most famous ads showed an imaginary character named Rosie the Riveter. Rosie
the Riveter was well kept and had rosy cheeks; a true lady. This advertisement not only
made working look attractive, but patriotic as well. When women realized that they could
work and still be feminine, they started looking for jobs. Some people had a problem with
women working. Industry was hesitant to hire women because they thought the only reason
women wanted a job was to earn a little spending money. Industry was also afraid that
female employees would marry and leave their job. (Encarta 98 Article: Rosie the Riveter )

Women helped out during the war by holding an assortment of jobs. Some helped the war
directly by forming associations such as WACs (Women Army Corps), WRENS (Women’s Royal
Naval Service), and the CWAC (Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Corps). Other women made an
effort during the war indirectly by becoming journalists, mail carriers, gas station
attendants, elevator operators, and farmers. Women also helped take people’s minds off the
war by entertaining them. Some jobs to entertain were film stars, dancers, and singers.
(America Prepares for War, p.23; Women and War, p. 6;
http://www.valourandhorror.com/DB/ISSUE/women/index.htm)

One job that women could be better at than men was being a spy. The government hired some
women to go to other countries and bring back information that would be of use to the
United States. It was easier for women to attain such information than men, because men
were more suspected than women were. Studies show that a woman’s information would be more
accurate than men’s would. (http://www2.kenyon.edu/people/wartelse/essay.html)

Ever since the Wright Brothers made their attempt at flying, women had been interested in
aviation. Others who were interested in flying such as Amelia Earhart and Mrs. Roosevelt
influenced women. Two famous pilots during the time of World War II were Jacqueline
Cochran and Nancy Harkness Love. These two pilots paved the path to female flyers by
forming WASPs. Becoming a pilot was quite costly, so a person only could become a pilot if
they inherited a great deal of money, or had a wealthy husband. (Those Incredible Women of
World War II, p.19-21)

Because of the high prices of becoming a pilot, the Civilian Pilot Training Program was
brought about, but three years after the program started women were no longer allowed to
enroll. The government also stopped training women how to fly, but allowed women to train
men. (Those Incredible Women of World War II, p.19)

World War II presented a great opportunity for females who wanted to become journalists.
At this time, there were about 130 women journalists. During the war, there were mainly
two things that were written about. These two topics were: the latest developments in the
war, and how the war was changing the world. Many people, such as men who were
journalists, did not accept female journalists. Women did not have access to social clubs
and back rooms where men conducted business. A group a Washington newswomen formed the
Women’s National Press Club because of this discrimination.
(http://lcweb.loc.gov/exhibits/wcf/wcf0001.html)

Nurses were extremely appreciated in hospitals and on the battlefield. Women had no
trouble becoming nurses because being a nurse was generally considered a woman’s job.
Also, women nurses proved their courage and love of their job in World War I. There were
extreme nurse shortages during World War II because of the downsides of being a nurse.
Many people preferred a safe job on the homefront to a dangerous job on a battlefield.
Wages for nurses were lower than the wages of industrial jobs, and courses which cost
money had to be taken to become a nurse. The courses to become a nurse were difficult to
pass, and dangerous to participate in. A class would consist of traveling through an
obstacle course that was full of barbwire, while some rounds of ammunition and sticks of
dynamite were fired at them. Those who became nurses were well trained and loved their
job. (Those Incredible Women of World War II, p.50-51)

A job on the homefront was less dangerous and yet very helpful. Women could become a
volunteer, or get paid for their job. In World War II, nylon stockings had become rare
because most of them were collected or donated to the army. Nylon stockings were sewed
together to form a parachute for soldiers or pilots. Women also sold war bonds to raise
money. Food was also another important need. Some women farmed or cooked food for soldiers
and civilians. The Red Cross was an extremely important association. Volunteers manned
blood banks which produced about five thousand pints of blood. They rolled two million
bandages and packed sixteen million kits which contained candy, gum, and tobacco. (Women
and War, p.14, 24; Those Incredible Women of World War II, p. 77, 78)
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