By 1933 employment reached to a twenty-five percent, which cut of half of the U.S gross national product. The Great Depression “for ten years it left what one observer has called “an invisible scar” running through the lives of millions of Americans “(Dubois, 485).
The image of Dorothea Lange’s haunting photograph, which took a part of the Depression decade. The photograph evoked many people because unemployment rose to about thirty percent with thousands of Americans losing their homes and farms. Race was a big thing for the woman especially the different color during the Great Depression. The ones who suffered the most were the working class and farm families. Not only did people lose their farms but the African Americans were the main ones. Then the Mexicans and Asian Americans started losing their jobs and farms. The observers wanted women to only work at home.
They wanted women to do the house chores and cooking while the men worked outside their homes. The poor women were the ones who struggled because they had problems like “poor sanitation and substandard housing” (Dubois,486). When their husbands lost their jobs, their marriages would be on the line and getting divorced after. Another thing was the decline of fertility rates. It says, “from eighty-nine to seventy-six live births per thousand women of childbearing” (Dubois, 486). In 1936, George Gallup asked if married women should work while men worked too, and eighty-two percent said no. In the school districts many of the wives didn’t get hired and fired them because they would get married.
But women still earned less then men by “65 cents for every dollar of men’s wages” (Dubois,487). It started increasing in about 24.4 percent in 1930 and 25.4 percent in 1940.
White women got jobs easily then other races. The black women lost their jobs in the 1930s. Many of them were thrown out of the fields in the South. To find jobs they would stand in the streets and wait “for white women to drive by and hire them for a day’s heavy labor for less than $2.00” (Dubois, 487). Even if they got jobs they were earning less from other white and Mexican women. Not only did the women’s workforce increased but the sex-segregated did also and limited their mobility and income.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to make change for the Great Depression and not make people suffer anymore. Which he began the New deal by the help of his Wife Eleanor Roosevelt. The National Industrial Recovery Act helped with the women’s workforce. It helped women to protect their organized labor. They were also a part of the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union. But many of the New Deal programs were discriminated towards women.
Another the New Deal gave “assisted women especially in their family responsibilities and reinforced their inequality as wage workers” which helped them in their Social Security Act of 1935 (Dubois, 492. In the Secretary of Labor Perkins, it provided “a federal pension plan and federal-state matching fund programs” were it helped the women and their children (Dubois,492). Women struggled so much that the New Deal helped a variety of Americans and coping with the Great Depression. The World War II had a big impact on the American Women. After the Great Depression “race, ethnicity, and gender discrimination continued to shape American women’s experience” (Dubois, 493). Once the war started they wanted women working.
The Women’s Army Corp’s got 140,00 recruits, 100,000 served in the Navy’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, 23,000 in the Marin Corps and 13,000 in the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve. Plus 76,000 worked as navy nurses. They worked as mechanics and welders, which made men look bad because it wasn’t a women’s job to do so. Another thing was lesbianism among other recruits because it was a rumor that woman was trying sexual things with other women. When the military would find out the first thing they would do is get discharged but few didn’t. One thing they didn’t want the members from the Women Airforce Service Pilots to perform this job because it took away the high status of male jobs. Women didn’t just want to work in defense industries but also in the economy.
The defense industry helped them get trained and have a high paying job as a welder, electricians and riveters. One thing for black women was to help “escape the drudgery and poor wages of domestic work” (Dubois,497). It was hard for them to get jobs because they received racism and white women didn’t want to work with black women and not share other things like toilet, shower and meals. The Mexican, Chinese and Native American got job opportunities then Japanese American because their job was to provide their families and help the people around the camps such as a teacher or clerk. It showed that white women had more opportunities then other women of the different race.