"Women in the Workforce During World War II"

II. LESSON PLAN:

“What can we learn about women’s experiences in World War II? How accurate was the image of Rosie the Riveter in reflecting the variety of jobs women had and the variety of roles women played during World War II?”

An inquiry lesson into the experiences of women in the labor force during WWII.

1)  Brief Overview
In this lesson, students will work with primary sources to expose them to the diverse array of experiences women had in the workforce during World War II. They will examine a number of different images portraying women working and compare these visual accounts to the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster. Finally, they will develop a stance on the accuracy of the Rosie poster based on the visual evidence from the images.

It is widely recognized that women were an important part of the workforce during World War II. With so many American men involved in the war abroad, there was an extreme shortage of workers at home and women stepped in the fill those positions. But what kinds of jobs did these women perform? Did the images put out by the government during that time truly accurately display the diversity of the female experience in the workforce? It is important for students to answer the questions in order to broaden their understanding of the female experience during this time period as well as the overall perceptions and misconceptions of women’s contribution to the war effort and domestic economy.

2)  Before You Teach

  • Be sure that students understand what primary sources are.
  • Be sure that students understand that as men went to war, women filled traditional male roles in the labor force.

    Time frame:

         Time Frame: 1 class period

3) Lesson Steps:

As a class, students look at the Rosie the Riveter poster and brainstorm observations about the image.
  1. Students read a paragraph containing background information about the causes of the demographic shift in labor during this time period.

  2. Students record observations about Rosie the Riveter on paper.

  3. Students describe and analyze primary source images of women working in different types of jobs during WWII and explain whether these images support or contradict the typical “Rosie” image.

  4. Students write a short essay to the prompt, “How accurate was the image of Rosie the Riveter in reflecting the variety of jobs women had and the variety of roles women played during World War II?”