How Has War Effected The Role Of

Women In Society? Essay, Research Paper

The 20th Century has been the period where women in society have got the chance to be ‘accepted’ in various divisions such as labour, military and voting. I think that the period where war had a drastic effect on the role of women was in the First and Second World War. However, I believe that the war did effect the role of women in many ways, but this only lasted for the period of war.

In order to examine how the war effected the role of women in society, we must examine what were the roles of women before the wars. In the years preceding the War women had been employed mainly in service oriented jobs, such as waitress, working as secretaries, laundresses, telephone operators, dishwashers along with doing light industrial work in garment factories and teaching. This statement clearly indicates that women were excluded from jobs which were ‘reserved’ for men. These included jobs in heavy industry such as production of cars, ships, steel, etc. There was a legitimate reason for this as many people believed that lifting steel for example, was not the job for women. This was total discrimination of women, and resulted them to do service oriented jobs. Most men believed that women’s place for in the home, taking care of the family and doing chores. As soon as war arrived, the role of women in society had clearly changed.

The author of, stated in his ‘Women and War’ page that propaganda played an important role in changing the roles of women in society. I clearly agrees with this as propaganda which appeared in newspapers, magazines, radio broadcasts, movies and advertisements generally portrayed women as white, middle-class housewives and women who were dependent on men. This occurred significantly, in the United States where propaganda blamed “working mothers for the destruction of the family, the argument being that they were not home taking care of the children, cooking for the family and maintaining the house”.

In World War 2, when United States declared on Japan, millions of men were drafted to fight, thus leaving their jobs vacant. Entrance in War meant an increase in production of armaments. However, the men which were available before to work in heavy industry were now away fighting the enemy. This triggered the government in the United States to persuade women to work in the heavy industry. Thus, the propaganda which was once responsible for blaming women, now attempted to recruit them to the heavy industry. The United States government began to invest in training women to work in such heavy industry such as plane, weapons and tank production. World War 2 in United States, and other countries such as Great Britain effected the role of women in society as many of them were employed in heavy industries to fill up jobs which men had left to participate in the war.

In places such as Britain and Europe, women were allowed to be drafted into the army and were actually allowed to serve in uniform. This and other division such as Labour Force, where the role of women had changed to, symbolised gains for suffrage women in Britain and Europe. When Great Britain declared war with Germany, many women decided to draft into the Army or the RAF respectively. This was one of the effects on the role of women in society, where women were allowed or persuaded to join the army, navy and the air force. This was clearly demonstrated in Canada, when 50,000 women were drafted into the army. What caused women to join the labour force or to be drafted is probably patriotism. This was demonstrated when the USA TODAY surveyed after the World War 2 and asked women why they decided to join the labour force. Thus, the propaganda in the United States had clearly being successful as it had a desired effect on the women in society.

In Germany, in World War 2, the role of women had also been effected by the war. Most of the male population apart from the male workers, were drafted into the army by conscription, which Hitler had ordered in 1933. Hitler urged women to have more babies preferably with blue eyes and blonde hair. This was again achieved by propaganda through radio, speeches, posters, etc. This portrays that in Germany, women were mainly seen as ‘sex symbols’ or people who had potential to have babies. Thus, women were encouraged to have as many male partners, even if they loved ones had gone to war with the enemy. The role of women had been effected by war in Germany, as Hitler urged women to have as many babies as they could in order to follow the theory of Arian.

As I said in my introduction, the role of women during the war came to an abrupt end as the war ended. This was clearly demonstrated in United States, when the war ended with Japan. The percentage of women working in heavy industry dropped to its pre-war level. Men who had not yet worked were guaranteed jobs over women employed during the war because these men had risked their lives for their country and were owed, at the very least, jobs. This devastated women in the workforce. For instance, at the Ford Willow Run plant women made up sixteen percent of 93,000 employees between 1943 through 1945, but by December 1946 they comprised less than one percent would have their jobs back, and also will get a job if they previously did not have it. Also, as the war came to an end, the demands of production in factories and industries declined, thus employers, which were mostly women were laid off. After the War, propaganda came back and urged women go home. In United States, after the War, A General advertisement from 1945 shows a women standing outside of her lovely home, complete with white picket fence, with her child playing with the family dog. The subtitle, “women want homes like these”.

The War gave women a great opportunity to prove themselves in the male work sphere and prove themselves they did. They responded when the government, through propaganda, urged them to fill the gap causing a labour shortage. Not Only did the women take part in the labour division, but millions were drafted into the army, navy and air force. Either a Soviet Spy, or an RAF pilot, the role of women clearly had been effected by the war from the casual housewife or a waitress. However, in the long-run much could be said about women’s performance during the War for women had proven themselves every bit as capable as men in doing male work. This ‘Freedom’ was experienced by many women and portrayed a change in modern day societies due to the war.

Bibliography The author for the ‘Women and War’ article is not stated. It is presumed that the author of the article is written by an American respectively. This might have effected the article, as bias and the author’s own perspective could have been included.

Researcher Program in Library Computers. Most statistics in this essay has been retrieved from the ‘Research Program’. The Researcher Program provides significant amount of information with sufficient evidence.

Encarta (Version Unknown). Information about the women in Britain was obtained from here.


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