During World War II, some eight million American women entered the workforce, bringing the total number of U.S. women working outside the home to over 19 million. Women also found new work in male-dominated fields that needed to fill positions left by men who were serving overseas. While we often think primarily of the iconic factory worker Rosie the Riveter, WWII-era women actually filled positions in all sectors of the economy, both in private and public industry.
When the war came to an end and men returned home, the U.S. government encouraged women to stop working and focus their attention on housekeeping and raising children. But even though women faced limited career opportunities once again, things never entirely went back to the way they were prewar. In fact, many historians credit the working conditions during World War II with opening up the paths for both desegregation and the modern women's rights movement.
Recently, Yale University released a digitized collection of over 170,000 government photographs from 1935-45, including many images of the real-life Rosies of World War II, taken in 1943. In honor of Veteran's Day, we've rounded up some of our favorite images of these inspiring women. Your grandma was a total badass, and we've got the pictures to prove it.