Women and white collar jobs after World War II

Document Type:Research Paper

Subject Area:History

Document 1

During WWII, thousands of men went into war, leaving spaces that needed to be filled in the labor market. Industries that were dominated by men earlier now had vacancies and this provided opportunities for women to fill those vacancies up (Brock et al. During the Second World War, women got into industries such as aircraft industries, shipbuilding, munitions, the medical field, law, politics and government work. WWII opened doors for women to enter white-collar professions. Also, the roles that women played during the war changed the perception of women to handle such capabilities (Gale). WWII caused a significant shift in this pattern with law firms hiring thousands of female lawyers in the 40’s. Hundreds of female doctors were also hired as medical personnel during the war (Gale) and were able to secure jobs in hospitals in the United States after the war.

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It is also worthy of noting that after the world war, universities and colleges in the United States opened their doors to more female law and medicine students by making the rules and requirements for admission less rigid. Women did not have the opportunity to engage in sports such as baseball before the war professionally. This, however, changed during the war when major and minor league players were taken into the war (Gale). During World War II, the women who were in Congress made their voice heard, and motivated other women to become active in politics and government. It was at the end of WWII that Frances Perkins was elected as the first female cabinet member. On top of that, women worked in government offices in Washington D.

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C. for the first time in the 40’s. These women had to step up and take up the jobs in white-collar fields to feed their families. The economic expansion also contributed to the influx of women in white collar jobs. According to Julia Kirk Blackwelder (Blackwelder 178), more women entered the job market as defence spending, population growth, innovations in consumer goods and new techniques in marketing powered the economy. In the 1970’s, the rate of female employment into white collar jobs grew more rapidly than the rate of employment of men in the same fields, with female employment rate standing at 44 percent while that of men stood at 17 percent (Blackwelder 178). During this time, women progressed most remarkably in management and administrative jobs, with the number of positions held by woman tripling from one million to three million (Blackwelder 178).

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Additionally, the movement rendered more women in the United States financially independent. There are women who solely ran families as single parents and were able to comfortably provide for their families (Blackwelder 194), something that was nearly impossible before the Second World War. Another impact of the movement at the time was raising the standards of living of many American households. It is to be noted that before the world war, most families ran on the income of one person, mostly the husband. After the world war, however, most households had incomes from both the husband and wife which resulted in better more comfortable lifestyles for the families. Moreover, women were empowered to fight for equal pay and opportunities in the white collar job market.

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