Women and World War II

Grade Levels: 8 - 12

Objectives

  • Students will understand the impact of World War II on the advancement of women in society.

Materials

  • Reference materials

Procedures

    Have students find the answers to the following questions:

  1. Before Pearl Harbor, the U.S. was supplying the Allies with land and water craft, as well as guns and ammunition. How did this impact the demand for labor in the U.S.? Why was there sufficient excess labor to increase production? (Answer: high unemployment during the Depression)

  2. When the U.S. officially entered the war, what happened to the demand for production? What happened to the supply of labor when the military began drafting civilians? So, if the demand for production increased and the labor force became smaller, what should have been the impact on prices? (Answer: inflation)

  3. Inflation was the result during World War I. In the first 53 months of WW I, the cost of living rose over 60%. Why was the rate of inflation lower during WWII? (Answer: (1) rationing and price ceilings to slow civilian demand; (2) women were encouraged by the government to enter jobs that had never before been open to women, expanding the available pool of workers.)

  4. Discuss the experiences women would have faced entering the workforce: new freedoms, earning wages, child care, prejudice

  5. When the war ended and men who had served their country returned to the States, in some cases, women were let go to give the servicemen employment. Was this fair? What could employers have done?

  6. How did women's participation in the domestic and military labor markets impact their post-war role in society?

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