What Taste of Freedom Did Women Enjoy in World War II: Essay

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Before the war, a majority of Americans believed that a woman's main commitment was looking after her family and home. However, during World War II, the government used propaganda of all forms to communicate the need for changes in women's roles and stereotypes surrounding their work. These changes encouraged women to enter factory jobs, and military jobs and proved that women were just as capable as men in the workplace.

As the second world war was quite focused on the production of weapons and vehicles, the war could not have been won without the assistance of women. Also with women supporting the economy and the homefront, the military nurses who consistently had their lives in danger were able to care for the soldiers. Programs were introduced like WAC and WASP that filled the void of fallen men. Some proved so beneficial to the armed forces the leaders of the Army specifically requested the program be continued postwar, this paved the way for future women in the military.

Nurses were the caretakers of wounded soldiers fresh from the battlefield and were primarily women. Wartime nurses dealt with every sort of injury imaginable, from gaping chest wounds and massive hemorrhages to amputations and severe burns. One of the most difficult aspects of their job, though, was helping soldiers handle the psychological damage. The medical teams were forced to work in tiny makeshift hospitals, in terrible conditions with less than desirable sanitization, often without necessary tools and equipment, even without running water or electricity in many cases. Some American nurses were posted to care for injured enemy forces at prisoner-of-war camps. These nurses had to set aside their feelings of anger, fear, and bias to care for the wounded members of the German forces. The nurses cared for their patients by keeping morale high and helped to heal emotional wounds as well as physical damage. The nurses inspired the soldiers they were looking after with their hardworking and dedicated attitudes to the war.

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Mid WW2 the United States had a major shortage of pilots, so an experimental program was made to help fill the empty positions: Train women to fly all kinds of aircraft so male pilots could be sent into combat overseas. The wasps were trained to fly almost every type of aircraft including B-26 and B-29 bombers. They ferried freshly built planes long distances from their factories to military bases all across the country. They also tested new planes and towed targets to give air and ground gunners shooting training for live ammunition. The WASPs were disbanded on Dec. 20, 1944, with no veteran benefits or long-standing recognition.

Without the WASPs, the numbers of combat pilots and Homebase pilots would have majorly decreased and the war effort would have been far more difficult for the air force.

The Office of War Information was in charge of promoting the war to women. It sent several guides to newspapers, magazines, and radio stations. OWI also allocated air time and print space, so that the media would show the same promotions to ensure it was getting around. It maintained very close contact with the War Advertising Council. The agency launched several campaigns like ww2 icon “Rosie the Riveter” (US Dept of Defence. 2019) and urged magazines to mention working women. The problem for the government seemed to not be actually employing women into defense, but getting women to do the other 82 percent of other jobs that were overlooked but necessary. The WMC and the OWI tried to convince women that every job they could take would help the war effort. They concentrated their propaganda on patriotism and personal emotional appeal. “Their patriotic style had two sides, a positive 'do your part' feel and 'a soldier may die if you don't do your part' warning.” (social studies.org. 2020). As it was a war of production. Factory workers were essential to victory, and women were essential in the factories.

Initially, the idea of bringing women into the armed forces was a great debate between commanders, the public, and the government. However, the need for manpower during World War II opened more roles to women. In 1942, the Naval Reserve recruited women, and the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was also founded. 1943, the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was created and the Women’s Army Corps was a part of the regular Army temporarily (Women in Combat: Issues for Congress. Page 2). By the end of the war, nearly 400,000 women had served in the armed service. Post-war, women became a permanent part of the military with the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948. They were prohibited from manning aircraft that were sent to combat and were not allowed to participate in any ground combat regiments. Leaders of the US Army in 1946 asked that the WACs become a permanent section of the army.

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