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Women in World War II

Page history last edited by druberti@umass.edu 1 month, 2 weeks ago



Poster, December 1940Poster, December 1940


Topics on the Page


Rosie the Riverter, Wendy the Welder and the American Homefront

Women in the Military in World War II


  • Fly Girls


  • Top Secret Rosies (Female Computers of World War II)


  • Code Girls


  • All-Black Women's Army Corps 







Millions of women joined the workforce during World War II and transformed their roles from homemakers to supporting their families.  


They worked in factories to develop war materials, they joined the military, and after gaining a taste of independence, they rallied to gain equal rights in the workforce.




Rosie the Riverter, Wendy the Welder and the American Homefront During World War II

Social Changes During the War, from Digital History




Partners in Winning the War: American Women in World War II, National Women's History Museum


National WW2 museum page on women in war


Women Replace Men in the Workforce from Oakland Museum of California


  • 18 million women across the country were enlisted in the steel mills, foundries, automotive plants and shipyards of America
  • 200,000 served in the military



Wendy the Welder


  • Women workers helped build battleships across the Pacific Northwest


  • Of the four shipyards built by Henry J. Kaiser in Richmond California during the war and the 90,000 personnel of which it employed, approximately one-third were women.

Tending the Homefront: The Many Roles of Bay Area Women during World War II, National Park Service

Rosie's Pictures: Select Images Relating to American Women Workers During World War II, Library of Congress

Selected World War II Records of Federal Agencies in New England, National Archives at Boston


Women and Victory Gardens


Recruitment Poster, 1940s
Recruitment Poster, 1940s




WWII Women's Recruitment PosterLes Marguerites Fleuriront ce Soir













Women in the U.S. Military in World War II


Click here for a history of the Women's Army Corps


Lesson plan on teaching the role of Women in the war



It's a Woman's War Too

More lesson plans featuring KWL charts 

Women Heroes of World War II: The Pacific Theatre. 15 Stories of Resistance, Rescue, Sabotage & Survival. Kathryn J. Atwood. Chicago Review Press, 2016


WASPS in front of a TB-25 Mitchell Trainer, 1944
WASPS in front of a TB-25 Mitchell Trainer, 1944


Fly Girls

Female World War II Pilots: The Original Fly Girls.

As the Magazine of History (Volume 24, no. 3, July 2010) points out, "from 1942 to 1944, about one thousand WASPs flew over twelve thousand newly manufactured aircraft from factories to military bases. They also towed targets for gunnery practice and tested repaired aircraft. Despite their skill and sacrifice on the home front (thirty-eight women pilots died in service) they were denied military status and benefits during the war and the program was abruptly ended in 1944, due largely to opposition from male service pilots."



Top Secret Rosies



Women breaking naval codes during World War II
Women breaking naval codes during World War II


Code Girls

More than half the American code-breaking force was female, about 10,000 women

Many were college graduates who had been excluded from math and engineering fields, but were now needed for their talent and expertise.

Source: "What Can We Learn from Women in Wartime," The New York Times (November 12, 2017)

How American Women Codebreakers of World War II Helped Win the War, Smithsonian (October 2017)

The Secret History of the Female Code Breakers Who Helped Defeat the Nazis, Politico Magazine (October 10, 2017)



Overview of Women's Roles in World War II at Khan Academy


Beyond the Story: American Women During World War II


African American Women












In 1945, the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion (the only all African-American, all-female battalion during World War II) worked in England and France, making them the first black female battalion to travel overseas.


Commanded by Major Early, the battalion was composed of 30 officers and 800 enlisted women.


All-black Women's Army Corps unit still fighting for recognition


Soviet Snipers


This is a video discussing the Soviet women's sniper corps in WWII




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