Even at the start of the war in Europe in 1939, women workers were only turned to as a last resort, The war in Europe had brought a flood of economic activity to America. Recovering businesses damaged during the Great Depression were once again prosperous, bringing hope to the American public for a bright future. In fact, World War II quickly "turned the unemployment problem into one of a labor shortage and rocketed the economy into new heights of production and prosperity." (Hartmann, 2) Business was booming and people were working.

Traditional beliefs "that men should be the primary or sole breadwinners in the family was especially significant in limiting women's job opportunities as long as unemployed men were still available to fill the labor needs." (Anderson, 24) The resistance to hiring women before all sources of male labor were depleted was encouraged by the War Department itself. A Civil Defense official was quoted as saying "give the women something to do to keep their hands busy as we did in the last war--then maybe they won't bother us." (Kessler-Harris, 274) Meaning women were still only expected to volunteer and do housework.


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