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American Women During World War II Americas entry into World War II posed opportunities for American women domestically yet paradoxically heightened fears in the polity about the exact role that women should adopt during wartime A central issue that dominated womens lives during this period was how to combine the private sphere of the home with the new demands of the war economy in the public sphere Women made significant gains in the military the war economy and in some cases in terms of political influence Yet these gains were misleading for policy makers utilised the female workforce for short-term gains during war with a long-term goal of seeing women return to the domestic sphere and reinforcing traditional gender roles Significantly also American women encountered different experiences of life during World War II since factors such as ethnicity and class largely shaped how women responded to or were affected by the Second World War Owing to the critical demand for labour employers during the war helped to break down traditional gender roles by recruiting women to traditionally male jobs Government industry and the media all encouraged women to serve their patriotic duty by taking a job Throughout the war however policy makers sent out ambiguous messages to women about what their proper role in American society was The motive behind this ambiguity rested in the fact that the government feared that the long-term consequences of women in the workplace since gender roles could permanently be disrupted if women became reluctant to return to the domestic sphere when men returned from war Many governmental agencies aimed to hinder sweeping changes for American women during the war- particular attention was placed on women in the military Business associations largely worked independently from the polity and tensions emerged when womens organisations highlighted the discriminiatory practices of employers Unions were also a highly important source of oppression to
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