The first major impact of the civil rights movement was felt with labor shortages when the men went off to war. The decrease in men workers resulted in an increasing number of women entering the work force. Women now took up industrial jobs that were once reserved for men, and “Rosie the Riveter” became a popular icon in America. Widening their horizons, many women were now working full time and still trying to maintain their role in life at home. After the war terminated, many of the munitions factory closed because the production of weapons was no longer necessary. Furthermore, some of the women in the work force were replaced by returning veterans. Some women, however, wanted to continue working and ended up doing so. Being a working woman was now a normal part of life, and young daughters of working women even joined the work force like their mothers.
Along with the increase in number of women in the work force, the number of teenagers who began working early had also increased. Attracted by waiting jobs, the number of high school dropouts increased significantly, resulting in the teenage work force swelling from one million to three million youngsters. Because the war took away the majority of men from the industry, teenage boys and girls were invited to fill in the gaps as replacements. Consequently, this resulted in the change of child-labor laws to allow for teenagers to work legally in many states. It was also common during the time for the federal inspectors to ignore the laws that regulated the employment of children. Between 1940 and 1944, school enrollment for those aged 15 through 18 fell by 1.2 millions or 24% while the number of employed youth of age 14 through 17 increased by over 2 millions or 200%. In addition, there were thousands of children younger that 14 years who illegally enter the wartime work force. Nonetheless, the effect of the war changed the American family structure; shaping it up for the better. This later plays an important role for the country to become the world leader in freedom, equality, and human rights. The American society has become more united because the new American family structure was developed—all members in the family had the same equality and their own roles.
Furthermore, an immediate political, psychological and economic shift took place following the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, because the United States found itself unprepared. The lives of ethnically diverse Americans have come to the point where they found themselves fighting both to defeat the enemy abroad and to overcome racism at home. On the West Coast, for example, thousands of Americans of Japanese-descent were relocated and interned in camps. African Americans were also known to be “the last to be hired and the first to be fired”. Although they were accepted into the armed forces, they were only assigned menial jobs and received low wages.