How did the roles of women change during WW2?

Essay by KesingtonHigh School, 10th gradeA+, June 2004

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During World War II women were exposed to many different experiences that they didn't expect, formerly thought to be men's duties. This changed their outlook on life and also made themselves and other people realise that they could confidently take on the roles of men; that their part was not just in the home. This change in attitude was brought on in the war and after it they didn't want to go back to being housekeepers after working for so long.

The types of work that women did during the war included factory jobs - maintenance work and ship building, in the armed forces - clerical work and transport, nursing and work on the land. Before the war the only jobs women had were teaching and nursing which were both very sheltered. The factory jobs etc made them stronger and more assertive, and after all this experience they did not expect to go back to being housewives.

Basically the hard labour and responsibilities were different experience for most of the women, who's only role had been wife and mother before the war. It was not a bad experience but just a change that evoked the awakening of feminism. Also, many nurses were captured and suffered for years in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps where they were tortured and forced into hard labour. This would have toughened them as much as the army would to a soldier. A few women served overseas doing intelligence work behind the fighting in New Guinea.

It is apparent that the role of women in Australian society changed due to all the experiences that they received throughout World War II. Experiences that hardened them, made them aware of their own capabilities. They did not expect to be sent back to the home when there was no...