World War II is one of the most researched and documented periods in history. With the wealth of information left behind from the era, images play an important part of what we know about what life was like during those years. War history has previously been a discipline that has been dominated by the male personalities involved in the events, but the importance of women in World War II cannot be overlooked.
With the absence of men who enlisted in the military, many jobs and occupations that were previously assumed to be a “man’s job” were now open to women. Women were more than happy to rise to the occasion, joining the workforce in a variety of skilled jobs that allowed them to show their worth and abilities and assist the war effort in their respective countries.
Women’s influence on the war effort was felt in a variety of ways: they took on professional manufacturing jobs, they became nurses, and they served in the military. One particular avenue in which women found success was in factory work. Women filled empty jobs previously occupied by men in factories that manufactured aircraft, ships, weapons, vehicles, and more. Some of the many jobs that women did in factories were riveting, painting radium on instruments, and cutting metal. Photographs from the time document these women factory workers and the jobs they performed during the war.
After the war ended, some of the men who left for the war returned home to their jobs, but many of them didn’t. World War II was the deadliest war in human history, and many of the men who left never came home. Many women were still able to remain in the workforce. Even though most of the factories shut down, women moved on to other professional jobs in the workforce, supporting themselves and their families in ways they hadn’t been able to before the start of the war.