The purpose of this research is to examine the impact of World War II on the U.S. economy, with special emphasis on women in the workplace. The plan of the research will be to set forth the context of change for the American economy that came about as a result of American participation in the Allied war effort, and then to discuss how, when, and the degree to which working women played a role in comprising the wartime economic structure.
Gluck's oral history of the reminiscences of life and times of Rosie the Riveter focuses chiefly on the impact that the industrial work experience had on women who were recruited for factory jobs for the duration. However, certain insights into the personal experiences of such women lead to logical inferences about how the war effort made a significant impact, not only on the pool of labor available to economy capital, but also on other areas of the economy. The background for such an impact was the persistence of what today would be (and indeed is) called a deep recession, and the equal persistence of highly traditional, patriarchal cultural values: "On the eve of the war, the country was still recovering from the Great Depression. Unemployment rates, though reduced, remained high and the hostility toward married women working had not abated" (Gluck, 1987, p. 4). The Janus-like culture, in which economic necessity forced many women, willy nilly, into the work-seeking if not working labor force, even as the prevailing cultural norms dictated a wife-and-mother role for such women, was due for a change for which World War-II served as the catalyst.
One impact of the war on the American economy was the widespread and rapid urbanization of the population, as jobs in urban industry opened up to facilitate the war effort.
Additionally, a more general recovery of the American economy was in evidence. Where there might have been Depression Hoovervilles, there began to appear boom towns acros...