The threat of war wasn’t much on the minds of America during the early 1930s. Dealing with the economic and social issues of the Great Depression occupied most people’s time.
After World War I, during the 1920s and 1930s, the U.S., weary of war, moved toward isolationism, described as the avoidance of political and military commitments to our alliances with foreign powers, particularly those of Europe.
A powerful force in isolationism was the peace movement that attracted women who had won the right to vote in 1920.
The destructive forces of WWI and the hardships of women’s lives during wartime further strengthened women against the U.S. getting involved in overseas conflict. However, toward the end of the 1930s, even though unemployment was still high, the social reforms of FDR’s New Deal raised the hope of many men and women that the crisis had passed.
People in America began to take notice of the rise in fascism overseas, Hitler’s takeover of Germany, and Mussolini in Italy. In addition, the aggressiveness of Japan got the attention of the U.S. population. All of this, plus learning that Hitler’s intent was to conquer the world scared people into moving away from isolation. Debates raged around the country until on a peaceful Sunday morning at 7:55 Honolulu time, December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. On December 8, President Roosevelt went before Congress to declare war against Japan and enter World War II.
Suddenly, the women who for the last decade had worked for 50% less than a man at menial jobs became the workforce as the men went off to war.
Women found out how strong they could be.
How important they could be.
How they could do the same jobs as a man.