Roles played by Canadian Women in World War II The Second World War tested the dedication and fervor of Canadians. It was a huge strain on the human resources as men were required to join the armed forces and they left behind many jobs…
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During World War II the first stand of the Canadian women was at the home front. Canada went to war in September of 1939. Canadian women mobilized immediately and within a matter of months they set up dozens of unofficial women’s corps all over the country. These groups were organized affairs with members numbering in the thousands. Patriotic Canadian women from across Canada joined these organizations, such as “Women’s Volunteer Reserve Corps”, “Canadian Auxiliary Territorial Service”, “Women’s Voluntary Services Division” and “National War Services”. Women worked on their own time and expense, enrolling in military related courses such as map reading and Morse-code signaling (Dundas & Durflinger n.d.). The female organizations also organized the drive for recyclable material. Women were responsible for collecting fats, paper, glass, metals, rubber, rags and bone. These materials proved to be invaluable while making war supplies. Women also helped by saving old tubes of toothpaste, unusable socks, and other things that may seem useless but were very precious for the war effort. During the Second World War it became common for women and children to frequently visit the junk yards in search for disposed metal and batteries. Those days, Canadian women prided themselves on being able to redo old clothes to make new ones, a second cup of coffee was a luxury and women were working with whatever they had (Sharp 1965). Canadian women were not only “making it” at home. Despite there being a restriction on women fighting at the frontline, Canadian women found and excelled in jobs that did not involve fighting but were equally important. These women contributed to the war effort by partaking in a wide variety of occupations. Men were being sent off to war and this created severe labor shortages in all areas. To fulfill the vacancies, women aged between 20 years to 24 years were initially accepted into “Selective Service” in 1942. These women worked in the service providing and manufacturing sectors. Also, many of these women took on the traditionally masculine jobs in shipyards and munitions industries. Up to 30% of the workforce in Canada’s aircraft industry in the Second World War era comprised of women (CBC News 2006). Many of these industrious Canadian women tell the story of workplace discrimination especially when it came to the remuneration package. Women were paid less than men and sometimes even the subordinate males earned more than their female bosses. The management of these facilities usually denied any request for an increase in pay by saying “that this was a woman's burden!" (Bruce 1985). Perhaps it was the collective effort of Canadian women at home combined with a severe dearth of manpower that encouraged the government to recruit women volunteers for full-time military service. The first call for women to sign up was very successful as more than 45000 women volunteered for many sections of the military nursing. Other than nursing, these women served as mechanics, parachute riggers and heavy mobile equipment drivers. During the Second World War, seventy-one women died working in the Canadian military (CBC News 2006). Canadian women did not let any adversity overcome their drive to fight for the right. Women who wanted to fly in the air force were politely turned down as it was not
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