Women in the war
Women's work in WW1. During WWI (1914-1918), large numbers of women were recruited into jobs vacated by men who had gone to fight in the war. New jobs were also created as part of the war effort, for example in munition factories. The first women police officers served during the First World War. One of the main responsibilities of the Women’s Patrols - as they were initially known - was to maintain discipline and monitor women’s behavior around factories or hostels. They also carried out inspections of women to ensure that they did not take anything into the factories which might cause explosions. For women with children who wanted – or needed – to take on paid work, childcare could be a problem. The pressing need for women to work in munitions did prompt the government to provide some funds towards the cost of day nurseries for munitions workers, and by 1917 there were more than 100 day nurseries across the country. However, there was no provision for women working in any other form of employment and most had to rely on friends and family to help care for their children while they were at work.
Women played important roles during World War II, both at home and in uniform. Not only did they give their sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers to the war effort, they gave their time, energy, and some even gave their lives. Reluctant to enter the war when it erupted in 1939, the United States quickly committed itself to total war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. That commitment included utilizing all of America’s assets—women included. The Axis powers, on the other hand, were slow to employ women in their war industries. Hitler derided Americans as degenerate for putting their women to work. The role of German women, he said, was to be good wives and mothers and to have more babies for the Third Reich.