Women in the workforce during World War II
This primary source represents women working at the Vultee Aircraft Plant (approx. 1941) in Nashville. Approximately one-third of the wartime employees were women. During World War II, over six million women took wartime jobs in factories and on farms. Three million women volunteered with the Red Cross, and over 200,000 women served in the military. As men were shipped overseas by the thousands, women had to take over jobs traditionally held by men, despite their lack of experience. Women who worked in the factories were soon dubbed "Rosie the Riveter" after a popular cartoon figure.
This source meets the 5.49 and US.52 Tennessee social studies standards.
Questions for Discussion:
1) Describe why large numbers of women entered the workforce during World War II and its impact on American society.
2) What adjustments did women in the workforce need to make to their daily routines?
3) When World War II ended, what happened to the roles of women in the workforce?
4) What was the significance of the Rosie the Riveter campaign?
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Women's History Month is celebrated annually in March. Since 1987, it has been a month-long celebration of women's contributions in United States history and contemporary society. Along with other women in history, the women in the World War II-era workforce should be celebrated.