Gender equality is a hot topic in the present climate, and discussion often reaches to the past to draw on repeated examples of bias and unfair treatment of non-dominant genders. Sadly, modern human history is a rich source for these examples in nearly every aspect of life. Due to the numerous topics that can be covered, I will examine the specific issue of women as the overlooked spies during World War II, drawing on information from the decade in which the war took place, with brief glances to the social climate before and following to show how such bias developed and continued.
The reason for choosing this period in time is that it exemplifies a moment when the social climate around the world was in upheaval. Men were conscripted to military service and women were encouraged to take their places in the factories and at other jobs the men vacated. The economy, the health of business, and the war effort required that women no longer be told their place was in the home. For instance, Maureen Honey writes that “researchers have been drawn to the World War II period as a time when women were encouraged to enter nontraditional jobs in manufacturing, white-collar work, and service/trade fields,” (Honey, 672). But there were also, hundreds of women stationed abroad (McIntosh, xii). Such stories are rarely or briefly discussed in historical texts of the period despite the existence of evidence. The lack of discussion may be due to a campaign of gender role consensus that began directly after the war. Honey asks, “Why did the media’s legitimation of female entry into male work fail to supplant the traditional image of women?” (Honey, 672) In light of such a campaign, is it possible to recover this history and use it to the benefit of an oppressed gender group?