All around the country women stepped into government jobs vacated by men. More than a million women, many of them young and single, came to Washington D.C. As more men were deployed overseas, women -- both military and civilian --were admitted into professional classifications previously reserved exclusively for men. By 1944, women accounted for more than a third of civil service jobs.

Aurelia Taylor and Torreceita Pinder, stenographers in the
U.S. State Department, Washington, D.C., May 1943

Credit: Library of Congress

Credit: Library of Congress

Office in an apartment house turned into office space for the foreign liaison bureau of the Office of Lend-Lease Administration, Washington, D.C. December 1941.



Credit:  Library of Congress


A War Department worker enters the Social Security building with temporary wartime buildings on the Mall in Washington, D.C. in the background.


Filing room in an apartment house turned into
office space for the Foreign Function Bureau, Washington, D.C., December 1941.
Credit:  Library of Congress



Women who answered the call to government service were not promised careers. “Government Girls” as they were known could only hold their jobs for the duration of the national emergency because the federal employees who had been drafted or reassigned were entitled to reclaim their jobs at war’s end. 

Clerical work was a typical female job in the War Department, and women moved mountains of paper during the course of the war. Women civilian employees of the War Department were permitted to wear WAC uniforms, obscuring the distinction between military units and civilian employees.