In the Second World War, the traditional roles of stay at home
moms mostly had to be suspended so the country could keep the war
well supplied with medical supplies, food, uniforms, guns and
everything else. Many women had non-traditional roles which usually
would have been carried out by men. Women supported the war front
from the home front doing war plant jobs and other jobs. They
worked in factories, making ammunition, repairing planes/aircraft.
Many wives had to run their husband's businesses. Farmer's wives
worked the family farms with the help of farm hands.
This was a huge learning experience for managers of plants and
factories--all men. Male managers often resented having to teach
and supervise ~women~. However, women workers saw it as a
challenge-- one they would win. Many women were smarter and more
skilled than their male bosses, but women had to often try to "dumb
down" to placate their male bosses' egos. However, women proved
they could keep up with production time deadlines and that they had
the ability and skill to produce products just as excellent as male
workers. Many women learned the business side of supervising and
managing from their factory jobs--- but these were skills women
used every day as stay at home moms! Women in the workplace were
not about to give up, despite negative male attitudes toward women.
And, the country indeed needed women as workers. The US would not
have been able to send all the able-bodied men they sent to war, if
women had not been placed in worker roles, or if they had produced
inferior products for war!
Women also cooperated with the rationing programs and recycling
plans -- they ran these programs in their local communities, not
just cooperated with this plan. They bought billions of dollars of
War Bonds. Women were the back bone of the victory of the war. See
my answers on the links below that shows what they did. This
question does not indicated the period of time that affected the
roles of women. Since it was put into the category of World War 2 I
will tell you that the women in North America, the United Kingdom,
Australia, New Zealand and other nations worked in the war
manufacturing plants building war armament and ships, planes and
boats. Women and men ineligible to fight in the war were the major
reason the Allied Forces won the war. Teens and older girls helped
with war bond fund drives along with the women and men running the
Over 300,000 women served in the armed forces doing clerical
jobs, nursing jobs or war type jobs such as manning radar stations.
In addition they often did the following roles:
They may have conscripted to the army - - First Aid Nursing
Yeomanry (UK) -known as "FANYs" - Home front during World War II -
SPARS (USA) -
Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (USA) -known as
"WAVES" - Women Airforce Service Pilots (USA) -known as
Women in the Russian and Soviet military
Women's Army Corps (USA) -known as "WACs"
Women's Auxiliary Air Force (UK)
Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service (UK) (in which Princess
Elizabeth, now Queen Elizabeth II was enlisted)
Women's Royal Australian Naval Service (Australia) -known as
Women's Royal Naval Service (UK) -known as "Wrens"
Women's Royal Army Corps (UK) - Air Transport Auxiliary
Look at Lydmila Pavenchenko - fought in WWII as a sniper. .
.she inspired many women in Europe!
On the other hand, many other women took the choice of the
traditional roles by staying at home with the children, knitting
socks for the army, filling sand bags, cleaning up after a bomb
attack (all of these took the traditional role of caring) etc.
Women who did not do the war work did all the other jobs needed to
run the country. Many women had to do childcare for the war
When the war was over many women realized they did not have to
be wives/mothers/housekeepers anymore. Some went to college to get
professional jobs and others started their own business. Those who
could not get professional jobs went for the clerical positions or
other types of work.
World War II was the impetus for the 1960s Equal Rights Movement
for the women. Men's and Women's daily roles had been forever
changed; women would not go back to the way it was.
Some historians who wrote about women's roles in WWII
Professor Penny Summerfield
Dr. Corinna Peniston