Women in World War II

Illustrated image of women in work uniforms around large block letters reading WOMEN
"Women: There's work to be done and a war to be won...NOW! See Your U.S. Employment Service," 1944.

Vernon Grant, U.S. Government Printing Office/Office of War Information. Courtesy Library of Congress, LC-USZC4-5604

Rosie the Riveter is an icon of the American experience during World War II. With her denim uniform, red kerchief, and flexed bicep, she represents women’s employment and empowerment. But the story of women on the home front is broader, deeper, and more complex than Rosie’s image suggests.

Millions of women did work in shipyards and factories during World War II. They labored as welders, machinists, and (of course) riveters. Women also drove trucks, cleaned houses, flew planes, organized fundraisers, treated patients, grew crops, broke codes, and took care of children. Hundreds of thousands of them joined the armed forces.

With opportunities came struggles. Some Americans heralded women’s patriotism, but others thought it was inappropriate for them to work outside the home. Women experienced sexual harassment and violence at work, in public, and in their homes. Black, Latina, Native American, and Asian American women faced racism and discrimination in war work and society. The US government forced Japanese American and Unangax̂ (Aleut) people into incarceration camps.

On this page, you will find stories of American women spending World War II in uniform, at work, and in their homes and communities. You can engage with this legacy through articles, lesson plans, travel ideas, and historic places. Learn about the history of women in World War II at national parks, like Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in California. Or investigate how women lived and worked on the home front in American World War II Heritage Cities.

Women’s home front experience is the American experience. Explore your history here.

Two African American women in military uniforms stand on a narrow set of stairs
Women in Uniform

Stories of women in the military during World War II.

A white woman with brown hair wearing red shirt and red kerchief works on large mechanical device
Women at Work

Stories of women at work during World War II.

Illustrated image of ration coupons and woman shopping for groceries
Home, Family, and Community

Stories of women and their homes, families, and communities during World War II.

Three white girls sit on the floor looking at a book held by a white woman sitting in a chair
Teaching & Learning About Women in WWII

Find Teaching with Historic Places education materials about women during World War II.

Exterior view of a brick building with a National Park Service sign
Travel Places of WWII

Explore the home front through heritage travel! This page collects information about parks and historic places related to WWII.

Featured Stories of Women & WWII

Browse More Stories of Women & WWII

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    Last updated: February 8, 2024