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How World War II Changed the Lives of Women

The Second World War permanently changed the lives of women. Most notably, the war opened new career possibilities and changed women’s fashion. Here are some examples of these changes.


World War II, (1939-1945) resulted in a shortage of people in the workforce because thousands of men had gone to fight in the wars. Prior to the war, women who held jobs usually worked in clerical and service sectors. During the war, they started to work in heavy industry and wartime production plants, in jobs that traditionally belonged to men. They worked as engineers, truck drivers, and construction workers, to name a few examples.

Rosie the Riveter became an icon of World War II. She was a symbol of the working woman, especially in defense industries.


Women’s fashion also changed because of the war. Skirts became slimmer and shorter (around knee length) to save fabric and meet regulations. Stockings disappeared and women went barelegged because nylon for civilian use was restricted.

The Women’s Land Army were women in the rural workforce in Britain. Women from towns and cities were employed to do dairy work, join rat-catching squads on farms, complete horticultural tasks, operate heavy machinery to turn over land for food production, and source and prepare wood from forests. They wore a special uniform to do their work.

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