In order to prosecute the war, President Franklin Roosevelt needs men. And lots of 'em. To fill the emerging ranks in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps. (the Air Force wouldn't become a separate branch of the military for five more years).
How many men were needed?
To pilot the planes, man the guns, hit the beaches, patrol our shores, tend to the wounded, assault the landing fields ... and on and on ...
By the millions.
Housewives, nannies, and girlfriends became Rosie the Riveter and Wendy the Welder.
And America's shop floor was changed forever.
Including in ways that were never anticipated.
From Time magazine, September 14, 1942:
Sex In The FactoryOther examples are provided. But you get the idea.
No problems like these bothered factory managers a year ago. But now, perhaps, a very shapely sweater girl wanders in to take her place in the swing shift. Low whistles follow her as she ambles down the aisle between machines.
This is only one of a dozen new problems since nearly two million women have gone to work in plane plants and other war industries. Some of the new problems - which are going to grow before 5,000,000 more women get war jobs:
► Some girls flirt at work. Douglas Aircraft (almost 25% of whose employes are now women) had to close its Santa Monica plant's bomb shelter with heavy tar paper (to be broken in case of a real air raid) because swing shift couples found it too handy for lovemaking during lunch.
While "the boys" were off doing their duty, their "girls" back home were doing other boys.
Odd how you never read that in the history books.
Odder still, it all seems to have worked out - in the end - just fine.