World War II

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What happened to women's jobs after World War II?

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After World War II, there was great concern that without war production fueling jobs, the country would fall back into a depression, raising unemployment to levels everyone dreaded. Eager to have jobs for the mass of returning male troops, government and industry both worked hard to convince women to return to the home. The campaign to turn Rosie the Riveter back into the domestic goddess was largely successful, at least for white women, who entered into homemaking and childrearing in droves.

Factory and other jobs held by women during the war returned to male hands. As it happened, most of the world needed to be rebuilt after the war, so the United States prospered and jobs were abundant. In hindsight, the country had nothing to worry about, but hindsight is 20/20, and decisions about the future are necessarily based on the realities of the past.

By the end of the 1950s, women were reentering a booming job market, albeit in part-time, low-paid "women's work." There was no legislation banning job discrimination during this period, so the ghettoizing of women into low-paid "Girl Friday" positions also helped ensure that most women would not or could not reenter the full-time job market in a way that could compete with men.

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