Published Date

June 1, 1944

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

From GI Roundtable 31: Do You Want Your Wife to Work after the War? (1944)

For many persons figures are not pleasant reading. Yet they tell a story quickly and the discomfort need not last long.

Any man with convictions about working wives should know the facts so that he may form his opinions wisely. The first table in the statistical story tells of the steady march of women to the office and factory.

It is quite clear that an ever-increasing proportion of women have been drawn away from home to find work. The war has merely speeded up a march that has been under way for a century and a half. The proportion of women in war industries. for example, is increasing at a tremendous rate. At the end of 1943, nearly five million women were working in munitions and other essential industries. By July 1944, it is estimated by the War Manpower Commission that 18.7 million women will be needed in the total labor force.

The story of married women leaving the home for work outside is more difficult to tell with figures but pictures help. Here are the figures showing that almost a third of the employed women are married. They also show that almost 14 million married women without young children have not taken jobs outside the home.

In general there has been an increase from decade to decade in the proportion of gainfully employed women who are married.

The second group of pictures shows more recent conditions. Of the 15.5 million women gainfully employed, 4.6 million or 29.7 per cent are married, even though the group includes girls as young as fourteen years of age. The figures tell also the story of mothers at the machines. Of the 4.6 million married women in the army of women workers 1.5 million, or 32.6 per cent have children under 16 years of age. The proportion of mothers in the working force is increasing.

The conclusion of the story revealed by the pictures and figures may be very simply stated. A year after Pearl Harbor almost a third of the working force in the United States was furnished by women. Of these almost a third were married. Of the married women workers almost a third had children under 16 years of age.

Next section: Why Wives Are Working