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11.7.2 SPARS unit march in military parade

Women of the service marched in the spectacle too. Shown is a unit of SPARS, women of the Coast Guard, who thrilled spectators with their perfectly executed marching in formation. Photo dated: September 9, 1943.
1943
Photographic Print
SPARS unit march in military parade. Photograph. 1943. Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles Herald Examiner Photo Collection. https://tessa.lapl.org/cdm/ref/collection/photos/id/16039

This photograph of a parade in San Francisco displays one way that women participated directly in the war effort. Although women could not serve on the front lines of the military, they did serve as active members of the armed services. Gaining experience and skills in the war was exciting and empowering for this group of women who were previously excluded from active military service. After the war, this group of female veterans would go on to lobby the federal government to receive benefits from the GI Bill of Rights. However, after the war business and government agencies encouraged women to exit the workforce, and those who stayed tended to find work in typically “female” jobs, in secretarial, nursing, and teaching professions.

This photograph of a parade in San Francisco displays one way that women participated directly in the war effort. Although women could not serve on the front lines of the military, they did serve as active members of the armed services. Gaining experience and skills in the war was exciting and empowering for this group of women who were previously excluded from active military service. After the war, this group of female veterans would go on to lobby the federal government to receive benefits from the GI Bill of Rights. However, after the war business and government agencies encouraged women to exit the workforce, and those who stayed tended to find work in typically “female” jobs, in secretarial, nursing, and teaching professions. Students may wish to reflect on the following questions as they consider where women fit with broader patterns relating to work and campaigns for equality: What does this image of women marching in military formation convey about their contribution to the war effort? How did World War II serve to advance movements for equality at home and abroad? How did the American government change because of World War II? Even though students may not have a sense of how the government or labor will change after the war, ask them to imagine how this population of female workers and veterans gained experiences in the war effort that could translate to other areas.