1941 Women Take Over Factory Work during World War II

Female Welders Supporting Our Nation During WWII
Female Welders Supporting Our Nation During WWII

As World War Two raged on throughout Europe and the Pacific, men were called up to fight for their country. An often overlooked and understated element of the war effort has been the contributions of women on the home-front during wartime. As men left their factory jobs to go and fight, women stepped up to produce the heavy machinery needed for the war and at home to keep the country running. Women quickly picked up and excelled at historically male-dominated trades such as welding, riveting and engine repair. Women were essential for the production and supply of goods to our troops fighting abroad. Their efforts during wartime refuted the misconception that women are incapable of manual and technical laboring.

Though these women showed up at the factories to offer their services for the war effort, some employers still tried to deny them equal pay.  Before the war, employers often classified work into “male” and “female” jobs, paying the “female” jobs less. When the war came, employers automatically classified the newer positions as “female” jobs so they would not have to pay as much. Some union officials attacked these classifications and demanded “equal pay for equal work”. These officials were not only interested in securing fair pay for the women. They were also concerned that after the war, veterans would return to work and find that they had suffered pay cuts and reductions because their jobs had been reclassified as “female” positions while they were fighting overseas. 

After the war, many women faced problems when their jobs were given to male veterans who were returning to work. Women who wished to remain in the workforce were transferred back to “female” jobs which received less pay, and often did not have union representation.