As volunteers, industrial and agricultural workers, and military personnel, women played a more important role in World War Two than in any other conflict in history. Millions of other women, on their own for the first time in their lives, maintained home and family under difficult conditions, including not enough money, housing, daycare, or basic consumer goods.
As volunteers, women organized blood drives, sold war bonds, promoted victory gardens, and served as air raid wardens, ambulance drivers, cryptographers, entertainers and spies. Amy Thorpe Pack was credited with saving 100,000 Allied lives through her espionage work. Women's Voluntary Services' 325,000 members did relief work at military bases and taught other women how to preserve food and repair cars.
Agricultural and industrial employers asked women to 'Do the job he left behind'. Women's magazines claimed making a bomb was like following a recipe. Five million women went to work, often 48 hours a week. "Rosie the Riveter" became a national icon, although few women were actually riveters. Women workers were usually paid less than men for doing the same job. In war industry manufacturing, women workers made 65% less than males, even though their employers got tax breaks for the "increased cost" of employing women. Women rarely advanced to become supervisors, and endured charges that their children were becoming delinquents because they weren't home to raise them.
The military branches, with millions of support service jobs to fill, were all enlisting women by November of 1942, with much controversy. (One church claimed that the Women's Army Corps was "intended to break down the traditional American and Christian opposition to removing women from the home…by bringing back the pagan female goddess of de-sexed, lustful sterility.") Women also freed men for combat, which displeased many of those men and their families. False, degrading rumors were spread about the immorality of military women. (Fact, Venereal disease was rampant among male soldiers, and practically non-existent among women in uniform.)
More than 300,000 women served in the military not only as as clerks, typists, and nurses, but also as pilots ferrying planes to military bases, parachute packers, radio operators, and wherever they were needed that was, more or less, out of harm's way.