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Women at Work: It's Not A New Concept

I have to admit that sometimes I still feel really alone in this whole “working mom” gig.

Side note: All moms work. I say “working mom” as a mother who works outside of the home for a paycheck. It’s just a term. I love all y’all forever no matter what your role in society. Even if you’re a prostitute. Probably not if you’re a drug lord. The end.

It’s common in my area for moms to stay home once the babies arrive, due to a mixture of good jobs for the men and painfully high daycare costs in respect to our lower cost of living. When I started back to work after my son was born in late 2009, I was the only working mom that I knew. All of my friends stayed home and it took several years for me to find a little “tribe” of working moms in the area. Moms that wanted early Saturday  morning park dates and knew how frustrating it was to show up to a status meeting with oatmeal on the crotch of your slacks.

But still I look back on my childhood with a stay-at-home-mother and wistfully wonder what it would be like. My son asks me why we can’t go to the pool on Wednesdays when the neighbor girls get to. And re-runs of old shows on Netflix make me wonder if I’m the freak for loving my job outside of the home.

Then I stumbled on these amazing, rare color photos from World War II on the Daily Mail Online and it was a sharp reminder that women at work is not a new concept. The photos were mostly taken by Alfred T. Palmer over fifty years ago and can now be found in the Library of Congress. Mothers bringing home the bacon and frying it is not a 21st century novelty. We’ve been doing it for years! True, most of these women went to work only because the men were overseas. But looking at these women, I felt such a kinship with their roles in society at the time. And it made me think that the reasons they worked then and the reasons that I work now may not be so different at the root of it all…

  • Finding your work BFF 1 of 9
    worldwar2

    Anyone else know what I mean when I say "work BFF?" I mean that gal (or guy) that you can vent to, bounce ideas off, grab lunch with... all without any flack. I was lucky that I worked for five years with my actual best friend, but even in my knew role I've found a few folks that help guide me through my career. Since it doesn't rely on instant messaging or email, I tend to think work BFF's have been around for decades.

    Photo source: Library of Congress

  • We are creative 2 of 9
    worldwar10

    Sure, not every woman is creative. But I am creative and I love my job for the ability to flex those muscles. I have to think there were women back in the 40's that felt the same way - they used their work as a creative outlet in a time before Etsy and Pinterest.

    Photo source: Library of Congress

  • We are just as good as men 3 of 9
    worldwar9

    Okay. So women are still making $0.70 to the dollar of a man's wages and that sucks. But the office, whether it's in a sky rise building or a battlefield, creates an equal playing field for getting stuff done.

    Photo source: Library of Congress

  • We can do the hard things 4 of 9
    worldwar7

    One of the things I love BEST about women working in the 40's is the return to women being badasses. Heck yeah, we can fix a chopper blade. Heck yeah, we can roast a mean chicken. Heck yeah, we can code an entire page of HTML.

    Photo source: Library of Congress

  • We need independence 5 of 9
    worldwar51

    This was a lesson I learned after college when my parents required a year-long engagement before I could marry my husband. Their goal was for me to learn independence and that I could stand on my own feet should anything happen to my husband in the future. It's a strong lesson for women and one that women in the 1940's learned first-hand while their husbands were gone overseas.

    Photo source: Library of Congress

  • It’s fantastic socialization 6 of 9
    worldwar3

    So maybe not what employers want to hear, but work is a social event. The adult interaction can't be beat, whether it's discussing a project or grabbing a cup of coffee in the break room between meetings.

    Photo source: Library of Congress

  • The chance to learn new things 7 of 9
    worldwar1

    Sometimes I picture these women with the steel and metal and the thrill of learning a new skill. I still feel that seventy years after these women, when I learn a new code or develop a faster, more efficient process to my job.

    Photo source: Library of Congress

  • We are caretakers 8 of 9
    worldwar4

    Please don't burn me at the stake for this. But I do believe that at our core, women are caretakers. We want things to be settled, warm, happy, nurtured. It's why we birth the babies and keep them close to us, it's why we tend to be the ones caring for the home, etc. The key is that these qualities don't turn us into Susie Housewife - they carry over to every aspect of our strengths as women. Into work and into relationships.

    Photo source: Library of Congress

  • We are hard workers 9 of 9
    worldwar6

    Women get sh*t done, whether it's in the home or in the office. The end. Amen. Write that down.

    Photo source: Library of Congress

More from BA:

I rocked this part of parenting & I’m not afraid to say it.

Keep from tripping on your toddler while you cook.

What we are up to this summer!

Life lessons hurt feelings sometimes.

Toddler snacking leads to heart disease.

Beth Anne writes words & takes pictures at Okay, BA! You can also find her on the Twitters & Facebook.

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