Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about women laborers in the wartime industry is that, before the war, they were all housewives unfamiliar with work outside the home. It is true that approximately 5 million women who entered the labor force between the years 1940 and 1944 were first-time workers, many of them married, white, middle-class women responding to government recruitment campaigns directed at homemakers. Still, in total, some 19 million women worked for wages during the war years. Roughly three-quarters of these women had known wage work before World War II; the war industries provided lots of sought-after employment for the many women who had been laid off during the years of the Great Depression, and offered career opportunities, higher wages, and new challenges for the millions in low-paying or mundane positions.
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