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Women At Work In The 1940′s

Before the WWII  few women followed careers. Most jobs for women were ‘traditional’ roles such as nursing, secretarial or caring jobs.

Only when millions of men joined the armed forces, women took on an active role in World War II and took on many paid jobs that previously had been held by men – such as bank teller, shoe salesperson or aircraft mechanic. Woman started working in factories – this was called the “Rosie the Riveter” phenomenon.

As a way to lure young women into the factories, advertisers showed women workers as glamorous and even fashionable. They mentioned that women did not care much about their appearance while at work, but that they were still feminine underneath the dirt. [sources: 1 2 3]

It’s hard to believe but some of your grandmothers actually made WWII bombers! Scroll down through these amazing vintage women photos and maybe you’ll find yours.

Women are trained as engine mechanics in thorough Douglas training methods, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. 1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

Part of the cowling for one of the motors for a B-25 bomber is assembled in the engine department of North American Aviation, Inc.'s Inglewood, Calif.1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

Oyida Peaks riveting as part of her NYA training to become a mechanic at the Naval Air Base, Assembly and Repair Department, Corpus Christi, Texas 1942 August, photographer: Hollem Howard R.

This girl in a glass house is putting finishing touches on the bombardier nose section of a B-17F navy bomber, Long Beach, Calif. She's one of many capable women workers in the Douglas Aircraft Company plant. 1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

Woman at work on motor, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. 1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

Women at work on bomber, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach Calif. 1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

Girl worker at lunch also absorbing California sunshine, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. 1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

Women are trained to do precise and vital engine installation detail in Douglas Aircraft Company plants, Long Beach, Calif. 1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

American mothers and sisters, like these women at the Douglas Aircraft Company, give important help in producing dependable planes for their men at the front, Long Beach, Calif.  1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

Woman working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in Calif. 1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

Women workers install fixtures and assemblies to a tail fuselage section of a B-17 bomber at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant, Long Beach, Calif. 1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

Woman machinist, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. 1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

Woman aircraft worker, Vega Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, Calif. Shown checking electrical assemblies 1942 June, photographer: Bransby, David

Lunchtime brings a few minutes of rest for these women workers of the assembly line at Douglas Aircraft Company's plant, Long Beach, Calif. Sand bags for protection against air raid form the background. 1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

Riveting team working on the cockpit shell of a B-25 (i.e. C-47) bomber at the plant of North American Aviation, Inc., Inglewood (i.e. Douglas Aircraft Co., Long Beach), Calif. 1942 photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

An A-20 bomber being riveted by a woman worker at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant at Long Beach, Calif. 1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

Women at work on C-47 Douglas cargo transport, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. 1942 Oct. photographer: Palmer, Alfred T.

 Painting the American insignia on airplane wings is a job that Mrs. Irma Lee McElroy, a former office worker, does with precision and patriotic zeal. Mrs. McElroy is a civil service employee at the naval Air Base, Corpus Christi, Texas. Her husband is a flight instructor 1942 August, photographer: Hollem, Howard R.

On July 1943 Transportation Magazine even published  “11 Tips on Getting More Efficiency Out of Women Employees”, which were written for male supervisors of women during World War II.

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  • AJSzilagyi

    what is the point of this?

    • paty

      culture?

  • Becca

    HI I am doing an annotated bib for AP history and these pictures would be great! However we are not allowed to use an online source so I was wondering if you had the books that these are in or something like that-filmreel/original source-
    Thanks so much!!!!

    • Talkitivejess

      no we do not sorry

  • paty

    boredpanda.com you don’t/need/can’t put your logo name credit under the pictures, because they’re from someone on flickr and free no need to credit, or assume that these are yours.

    • Bored Panda

      Hi Paty, we don’t do that anymore, it’s an old article, so please forgive us :)