The Journal of Economic History

Papers Presented at the Fifty-First Annual Meeting of the Economic History Association

Working Class Rosies: Women Industrial Workers during World War II

Sherrie A. Kossoudjia1 and Laura J. Dressera1

a1 The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109–1220.


After joining the industrial workforce during World War II, women disappeared from industrial employment with postwar reconversion. This article uses data from Ford Motor Company employee records to describe female industrial workers, their work histories before Ford, and their exit patterns from Ford. We draw a more complete picture of these industrial workers and discuss the differences between those who chose to leave Ford and those who left involuntarily. Contrary to popular myth it was housewives, along with African-American and older women, those with the fewest outside opportunities, who were more likely to be laid-off.