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Monday, March 1, 2010

GET A JOB -- MARCH IS WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH

PATRIOTIC POSTER PRINTED BY GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE FOR WWII
US MANPOWER COMMISSION
Source: US National Archives

WWII which began for the U.S. in 1941 and ended in 1945 needed women to fill traditional jobs heretofore held by men -- men that now were serving overseas in this huge war effort. The government's position was as follows:

These jobs will have to be glorified as a patriotic service if American woman are to be persuaded to take them and stick to them. Their importance to a nation engaged in total war must be convincingly presented. (Source, US National Archives)

So an all out national campaign began to persuade woman to fill men's vacated traditional jobs usually in factories. Factories that were being retooled to produce war machinery rather than items such as cars and appliances.

WOMAN RIVETER AT LOCKHEED AIRCRAFT, BURBANK CA
Source: US National Archives
White women gained employment in factory jobs easier that black women. In 1943 automotive plants had not hired any black women workers but were hiring black men. Corporations, under pressure from the government reluctantly hired black women.

VOCATIONAL SCHOOL IN CENTRAL FLORIDA
Photo: Howard R. Hallem
Source: US National Archives

Vocational schools were set up to train women in jobs important to the cause. Secretaries, housewives, and waitresses trained at these vocational schools for future war work.

WOMEN WAR WORKERS, WELDERS, SHIPBUILDING CORP., PASCAGOULA, MS, 1943
Photo: Spencer Beebe,
Source: US National Archives
During the peak of using women, 1943 to 1945, women only held 4.4 percent of traditional jobs in factories.

But this effort by women changed woman's role in our society. Dress habits of wearing slacks became more prevalent in woman's everyday wear. Women had shown their worth in traditional jobs that men usually held -- they proved they could handle most jobs presented to them. This work performance was the catalyst that slowly moved through our nation resulting in the woman's movement of the 1970s and -- the rest is history.

2 comments:

  1. Great post! Does anyone (but me!) wonder where we (women and men) go from here? What will happen as more women than men are employed--as is the case now? How will these role-changes affect us? How will they affect families?

    We never stand in the same river twice.

    Anticipating these mighty social upheavals will play a major part in making adjustments over the long haul to enable us to survive.

    What a lovely and generous blog you have, Barbara! On our farm JOTOLR we used to have an old hemlock tree in our lower woods which my nephew called the "meeting tree" because a lot of the cows would gather beneath it in the summer, seeking shade. We always thought they were gathering to share information about the best grazing. So, I would say, FolkWays Notebook is a wonderful meeting tree!

    Elora

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  2. Elora,
    And what generous comments you have made about my blog. I thank you very much.

    Your insight about the social changes that are occurring about gender employment is something that needs researching. Perhaps there is info out there but I am not aware of it. I believe I did hear murmurings about women who made more money than their husbands but can't remember the details.

    One thing I would like to say is that I feel the change brought about over time, for women, is so very healthy for the young women of this country.

    I sure like the idea of the "meeting tree" metaphor.

    So wonderful that you live on a farm. I feel your sense of place coming through. -- barbara

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