Working Women in Aviation of World War II Changed Society’s Views – Part 1

We at Covington Aircraft want to highlight the important working women in Aviation during World War II.  We will cover from the start of the war to the end of the war and how important they were in the history of aviation during World War II.


Before World War II, many women worked, but in jobs that were considered “female work.”

womeninaviationPrior to the war effort, many women worked at “traditional jobs.”  In general, though, many women were discouraged from working due to the influence of the Great Depression of the 1930s.  During that time, it was believed that a working woman was taking work away from a “working man.” However, many women did work in lower paying, less important and subservient roles.  At the start of the war, women made up approximately one-fourth of the workforce (12 million workers); by the end of the war, women comprised one-third of the workforce (18 million workers).  Many “Rosie the Riveters” were women who switched from low-paying positions to the higher-paying factory jobs.

During the start of the war, many factories transitioned from automotive production to war supply production.

There were also many new factories constructed as the United States “geared up” for the effort.  As production increased and the workforce decreased due to men leaving for the service, the U.S. government launched a propaganda campaign to lure women into the workforce.  The name “Rosie the Riveter” became synonymous with working women.  Shortly after the launch, Norman Rockwell covered the front of the Saturday Evening Post’s May 29, 1943 publication with his rendition of Rosie.  Soon “Rosies” were found everywhere, including a Rosie Hicker of Eastern Aircraft Company in Tarrytown, N.Y., who became famous through the media.

Women responded differently to the call to work, depending on race, age, class, marital status and number and ages of children.

women_in__aviationUp to half of the women who took war jobs were minorities and lower class.  The call to work had to overcome the stigma of women working as well as husbands who did not want their wives to work.  Also, many women with children younger than the age of 14 were encouraged to stay home; however, as the war continued and the workforce shortage grew, the demand grew to such a point that women with children younger than age 6 were taking jobs in the war effort.  Women also had the “double duty” that most men did not see, working and maintaining the home.  Initially there was a fear that taking women away from raising their children would give rise to juvenile delinquency.

Stay tuned for part 2 later this week as we cover why it’s important for us to understand the valuable contributions of Women in World War 2! Happy Flying!

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