Wednesday 24 August 2016

Women’s Roles Changed During Wars, Reports Marla Ahlgrimm

Marla Ahlgrimm
Antebellum America is largely responsible for the gender stereotypes we know today, says Marla Ahlgrimm. However, the Civil War and World War II offered women the opportunity to shatter them, leading to greater equality among the sexes.

The years prior to the Civil War saw women shaped by the idea of “true womanhood.” This meant married women found their primary purpose in creating a clean, comfortable, and inviting home for their spouses and children. However, as tensions between the North and South escalated, women began taking on roles outside the home. At the onset of war in 1861, women were some of the first to volunteer to further their cause. Marla Ahlgrimm explains that greater than 400 women masculinized themselves and fought discreetly as men in both the Union and Confederate armies.

After the war, things mostly went back to normal, with men taking on traditional roles outside the home and women nurturing their families. According to Marla Ahlgrimm, that changed again during World War II when women were required to fill conventionally male job roles at home. At this time, women were also allowed to join the armed forces as strategic leaders and nursing professionals. This military involvement extended into Washington as “Government Girls” were offered high-ranking positions in the behind-the-scenes war effort.

Marla Ahlgrimm notes that US factories welcomed a female workforce with open arms and women became perhaps the most important factor in producing ammunition and other tools that won the war. The women who stayed behind literally kept the country running and proved that a woman’s place was where she was most comfortable, whether at home raising a family or on-the-clock running shops, building homes, or in manufacturing.

After World War II, women continued to work outside the home. Marla Ahlgrimm believes these pioneering moms, sisters, and wives helped pave the way for equal women’s rights in both the community and the workplace. Today, women continue to break through glass ceilings and prove “the fairer sex” is as strong and capable as men.


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