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Women in the Workforce: The influence of the Second World War

America's "Rosie the Riveter" may be the most famous image of a woman toiling in a factory to support the Allied war effort, but she's just a cartoon. "Rosie the Crane Operator" — 19-year-old Rose Young of Whitney Pier in Sydney, Nova Scotia — is real. She is one of thousands of women who signed up for traditional "men's work" in Canada's factories and foundries during the Second World War. She freed up an able-bodied man to fight in Europe... and married him when he returned!

The Second World War put an end to employment problems that began in the Depression of the 1930s. In September 1939 alone almost 60,000 men enlisted in the army. Over a million Canadians served in the Armed Forces by the end of the war. That opened the door for women to step into workplaces such as factories, machine shops and farms, that had previously been reserved for men.

To learn more about women’s roles on the “home front” during the Second World War, try this lesson.