Work, Womanpower, and World War II

Sarah Armstrong (Information services librarian, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg. <>.)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Publication date: 1 April 1998


During World War II, women entered the American work force in record numbers. A labor shortage developed as men left their jobs for military service, and womanpower became essential in the rapidly expanding defense industries. Women undertook jobs that previously had been considered men’s work. Rosie the Riverter became a symbol of American womanhood as women worked in aircraft factories, shipyards, and steel mills. World War II had possibilities for drastically changing the position of women in American society. However, scholars have questioned the extent to which World War II fulfilled its potential because after the war’s end large numbers of women returned to the home and to traditional women’s jobs. In this article, Armstrong presents a core collection of resources, which examine the impact of employment during World War II on the status of women in America.


Armstrong, S. (1998), "Work, Womanpower, and World War II", Reference Services Review, Vol. 26 No. 1, pp. 31-36.

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Copyright © 1998, MCB UP Limited

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