The war years brought about great changes in the society and economy of Alabama. The shortage of men and the demand for goods and services provided women with an opportunity to expand their role in the workplace and in volunteer activities. These changes affected different women in different ways; some were beneficial, others detrimental. The experience of a welder, an airplane mechanic, a Red Cross worker, or a textile worker was different from that of a black woman who left field work for a job in a laundry. The most visible change of the war was the imperative need for women workers. Along with wider job opportunities went higher wages, less discrimination, greater recognition of the value of women as workers, and concern for women's dual responsibilities as mothers and workers.
Nationwide the war economy brought about substantial changes in the size of the female labor force and the characteristics of the women who worked. The first of these changes was a tremendous increase in the number of women who were employed. Nationally the female labor force grew by 6.5 million from 1940 to 1945; the proportion of employed women to the total female population jumped from 25 to 36 percent. The second big change was the composition of the female labor force, which shifted to include large numbers of married and older women. One in every ten married