1940-1959: Rise and Decline

WWII Mobilization and Postwar Decline

WWII and its aftermath marked a pivot-point for many Berkeley women, as Catherine Gallagher shows in the four essays below. During the war, women were invited to enter traditionally masculine fields and mobilized to do all sorts of war work. With male students conscripted into the armed forces, women also took over the leadership of student government and ran the campus publications, turning them in progressive directions. Because the university was a center of wartime research and training, academic women played a variety of roles in the national war effort and made important contributions to the victory.   

However, women's influence, status, and numbers all declined sharply when the war ended. As the university swelled to accommodate the sudden influx of veterans funded by the federal GI Bill, women students were crowded out. The percentage of women faculty also dwindled for the next twenty-five years. A myriad of forces during the post-war period contracted women’s horizons in professional and academic life. 

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