The Second World War greatly disrupted the societies of the countries involved. As many men volunteered or were called up for military service, women flooded into to the factories and helped on farms to fill the jobs men left behind. The expansion of the armed forces also offered women the opportunity to enter military service. They were primarily put in supportive roles, but in some countries, they also served on the front lines.
In the United States alone, some six million women joined the civilian work force. Furthermore, some 350,000 women served with the US armed forces as, among other, nurses, typists, translators, and engineers. In the Soviet Union, some women were even deployed in combat units operating as, for instance, pilots or snipers.
After the war, many women returned to domestic life, but the war had a lasting effect on the roles of women in society. Women had shown themselves being capable of performing jobs that were previously carried out exclusively by men. The recognition of their efforts paved the way for a gradual integration of women into the workforce.
The contribution made by women from all countries to the war effort has previously been largely overlooked. In general, much more attention is given to the military aspects of the war. However, the female contribution to the war effort was a vital one, without which the history of the Second World War would have looked very different.