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Women At Work In The 1940′s
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History, Photography12 years ago

Women At Work In The 1940′s

Before WW2, few women followed careers. Gender roles in the 1940s and earlier dictated that women should follow ‘traditional’ roles such as nursing, secretarial or caring jobs. Only when millions of men joined the armed forces did women take on an active role in World War 2. They broke gender stereotypes at the time and filled many paid jobs that previously had been held by men – such as a bank teller, shoe salesperson or aircraft mechanic.

Women on the homefront also started working in factories to support the war efforts. This was known as the ‘Rosie the Riveter’ phenomenon and it’s been attributed to the ‘We Can Do It’ poster that you might recognize too. Over time, it’s become one of the best feminist icons in history. 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 bomber planes! These WW2 color photos show us the challenging work taken on by these proto-feminists. Without their efforts to break stereotypes, we wouldn’t have women in engineering or other supposed men’s roles today. Scroll down through these amazing vintage women photos and maybe you’ll find yours.

1940s Women In Engineering Training

Changing Traditional Gender Roles With A Rivet Gun

These WW2 Color Photos Also Show The Style At The Time

Rosie The Riveter

WW2 Aircraft Systems Being Tested

Women Engineers Checking Aircraft Propeller

Gender Roles In The 1940s Were Not Great To Women

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. This example of institutionalized sexism now looks ridiculous in today’s age.

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