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New Deal and World War II[edit]

In 1932 Hattie Caraway of Arkansas became the first woman elected to the Senate.[177] Furthermore, in 1932 Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, taking her journey on the 5th anniversary of Lindbergh's solo Atlantic flight . [178] She was awarded the National Geographic Society's gold medal from President Herbert Hoover, and Congress awarded her the Distinguished Flying Cross.[178] Later in 1932 she became the first woman to fly solo nonstop coast to coast, and set the women's nonstop transcontinental speed record, flying 2,447.8 miles in 19 hours 5 minutes.[178] In 1935 she became the first person to solo the 2,408-mile distance across the Pacific between Honolulu and Oakland, California; this was also the first flight where a civilian aircraft carried a two-way radio.[178] Later in 1935, she became the first person to fly solo from Los Angeles to Mexico City.[178] Still later in 1935, she became the first person to fly solo nonstop from Mexico City to Newark.[178] In 1937 Amelia Earhart began a flight around the world but vanished during it; her remains, effects, and plane have never been found.[178] The first woman to fly solo around the world and return home safely was the American amateur pilot Jerrie Mock, who did so in 1964.[179] In 1933 Frances Perkins was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt as his Secretary of Labor, making her the first woman to hold a job in a Presidential cabinet.[180] However, women also faced many challenges during this time. A National Education Association survey showed that between 1930 and 1931, 63% of cities dismissed female teachers as soon as they became married, and 77% did not hire married women as teachers.[181] Also, a survey of 1,500 cities from 1930 to 1931 found that three-quarters of those cities did not employ married women for any jobs.[182] In January 1932, Congress passed the Federal Economy Act which stipulated that no two persons in the family could be working in government service at the same time; three-fourths of employees discharged as a result of this Act were women.[181]However, during the Great Depression white women's unemployment rate was actually lower than that for men, because women were paid less and because men would not take what they considered to be "women's jobs" such as clerical work or domestic service.[183]Yet as a result of rising unemployment, white women's movement into professional and technical work slowed.[183] Birth control activism was an important cause in the 1930s. In 1936 Margaret Sanger helped bring the case of "United States v. One Package" to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.[144] The decision in that case allowed physicians to legally mail birth control devices and information; however, it applied only to New York, Connecticut, and Vermont; birth control did not become legal for married couples throughout the United States until the 1965 Supreme Court decision Griswold v. Connecticut, and did not become legal for unmarried couples throughout the United States until the 1972 Supreme Court decision Eisenstadt v. Baird.[144][184][185][186] In 1937 The American Medical Association officially recognized birth control as an integral part of medical practice and education, and North Carolina became the first state to recognize birth

control as a public health measure and to provide contraceptive services to indigent mothers through its public health program.[184] In 1939 black singer Marian Anderson sang on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which was considered a milestone in the civil rights movement.[187] She had originally wanted to sing at Washington D.C.'s largest venue, Constitution Hall, but The Daughters of the American Revolution barred her from performing there because of her race.[187] Due to this, Eleanor Roosevelt, who was then the First Lady, resigned from the organization.[187] This stands as one of the first actions taken by someone in the White House to address the era's racial inequality.[187] Anderson performed at the White House three years prior in 1936, making her the first African-American performer to do so.[187]

A female welder at the Richmond Shipyards, Richmond, California, in 1943. Women factory workers embodied the "Rosie the Riveter" ideal.

World War II[edit]

When the United States entered World War II in 1941, 12 million women were already working (making up one quarter of the workforce), and by the end of the war, the number was up to 18 million (one third of the workforce).[188] However, while eventually 3 million women worked in war plants, the majority of women who worked during World War II worked in traditionally female occupations, like the service sector.[188] During this time, the "Rosie the Riveter" concept became popular with working women.[188] Furthermore, during World War II 350,000 women served in the military, as WACS, WAVES,SPARS, Marines and nurses.[61] More than 60,000 Army nurses served stateside and overseas during World War II; 67 Army nurses were captured by the Japanese in the Philippines in 1942 and were held as POWs for over two and a half years.[61] More than 14,000 Navy nurses served stateside, overseas on hospital ships, and as flight nurses during the war.[61] Five Navy nurses were captured by the Japanese on the island of Guam and held as POWs for five months before being exchanged; a second group of eleven Navy nurses were captured by the Japanese in the Philippines and held for 37 months.[61] Over 150,000 American women served in the Women's Army Corps (WAC) during World War II; the Corps was formed in 1942.[189]Many Army WACs computed the velocity of bullets, measured bomb fragments, mixed gunpowder, and loaded shells.[189] Others worked as draftswomen, mechanics, and electricians, and some received training in ordnance engineering.[189] Later in the war, women were trained to replace men as radio operators on U.S. Army hospital ships.[189] The "Larkspur", the "Charles A. Stafford", and the "Blanche F. Sigman" each received three enlisted women and one officer near the end of 1944.[189] This experiment proved

successful, and the assignment of female secretaries and clerical workers to hospital ships occurred soon after.[189] Eventually the Air Force obtained 40% of all WACs in the Army; women were assigned as weather observers and forecasters, cryptographers, radio operators and repairmen, sheet metal workers, parachute riggers, link trainer instructors, bombsight maintenance specialists, aerial photograph analysts, and control tower operators.[189] Over 1,000 WACs ran the statistical control tabulating machines (the precursors of modern-day computers) used to keep track of personnel records.[189] By January 1945 only 50% of AAF WACs held traditional assignments such as file clerk, typist, and stenographer.[189] A few Air Force WACs were assigned flying duties; two WAC radio operators assigned to Mitchel Field, New York, flew as crew members on B-17 training flights.[189] WAC mechanics and photographers also made regular flights.[189] Three WACs were awarded Air Medals, including one in India for her work in mapping "the Hump," the mountainous air route overflown by pilots ferrying lend-lease supplies to the Chinese Army.[189] One woman died in the crash of an aerial broadcasting plane.[189] In 1942 the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) division was founded as an all-female division of the Navy, and more than 80,000 women served in it, including computer scientist Grace Hopper, who later achieved the rank of rear admiral.[190]While traditionally female secretarial and clerical jobs took a large portion of the WAVES women, thousands of WAVES performed previously atypical duties in the aviation community, Judge Advocate General Corps, medical professions, communications, intelligence, science and technology.[191] The WAVES ended and women were accepted into the regular Navy in 1948.[190] The first six enlisted women to be sworn into the regular Navy on July 7, 1948 were Kay Langdon, Wilma Marchal, Edna Young, Frances Devaney, Doris Robertson. and Ruth Flora.[192] On October 15, 1948, the first eight women to be commissioned in the regular Navy, Joy Bright Hancock, Winifred Quick Collins, Ann King, Frances Willoughby, Ellen Ford, Doris Cranmore, Doris Defenderfer, and Betty Rae Tennant took their oaths as naval officers. [193] Semper Paratus Always Ready, better known as SPARS, was the United States Coast Guard Womens Reserve, created Nov 23, 1942; more than 11,000 women served in SPARS during World War II.[194] SPARs were assigned stateside and served as storekeepers, clerks, photographers, pharmacist's mates, cooks, and in numerous other jobs.[61] The program was largely demobilized after the war.[194] The Marine Corps created a Women's Reserve in 1943; women served as Marines during the war in over 225 different specialties, filling 85% of the enlisted jobs at Headquarters Marine Corps and comprising one-half to two-thirds of the permanent personnel at major Marine Corps posts.[195] Marine women served stateside as clerks, cooks, mechanics, drivers, and in a variety of other positions.[61] The Women's Airforce Service Pilots (also known as WASP) was created in 1943 to free male pilots for combat service. WASPs flew stateside missions as ferriers, test pilots, and anti-aircraft

artillery trainers.[61] Some 25,000 women applied to join the WASP, but only 1,830 were accepted and took the oath, and out of those only 1,074 women passed the training and joined.[196] The WASPs flew over 60 million miles in all, in every type of aircraft in the AAF arsenal.[197] WASPs were granted veteran status in 1977, and given the Congressional Gold Medal in 2009. [198] Many women were spies for America during World War II, for example the singer Josephine Baker, whose long residency in France helped her form an underground network, and Claire Phillips, a spy in the Philippines (then occupied by Japan) who in addition to spying sent aid and supplies to the American POWs; Claire was tortured, but never admitted to knowing the people in her spy ring, and after the war she was recognized by the American and Philippine governments for her heroism.[199][200][201][202]