Skip to main content

Women in the Work Place


Poster for the Illinois branch of the National Youth Administration, 1937


The National Youth Administration was a New Deal Agency that focused on helping boys and girls from the ages of 16 to 25 to find employment and obtain an education. The agency operated from 1935 – 1943. This poster specifically targets girls to consider joining the work force. Typical employment options included seamstress, typist and nurse.

 In Grapes of Wrath we are introduced to a female character, Ma Joad, as a hero. Ma Joad is first introduced as a passive character, one that stands behind the men and supports them, but she quickly steps in front of the men and take control. It is Ma Joad strong will and determination that keeps the family together to their journey to California. Only with Ma Joad’s approval and understanding does Tom leave the family. Ma Joad is given agency and authority in the novel, much like how the NYA is trying to give these young girls. Women are moving out from behind the men. They are starting to be seen as participants in society. People that can contribute in the work force, earn wages, and actively participate in the economy.

Women in the Work Place