Fleeting Opportunities

Women Shipyard Workers in Portland and Vancouver During World War II and Reconversion

By Amy Kesselman

Subjects: Women's Studies
Series: SUNY series in American Labor History
Paperback : 9780791401750, 204 pages, April 1990
Hardcover : 9780791401743, 204 pages, May 1990

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This book tells the story of the daily lives of women industrial workers in World War II shipyards. It focuses on their struggle against the persistence of occupational segregation, the sexual and racial hierarchy of the shipyard work force, and the pervasive emphasis on female sexuality which served as a constant reminder that women were transient and marginal imposters.

In addition, Fleeting Opportunities demonstrates that despite the myth that these women yearned to return to their kitchens, in fact many wanted to continue using their wartime skills in the postwar period. However, finding themselves excluded from jobs by union and management, those who continued to work ended up in low-paying, predominantly female occupations.

Amy Kesselman is Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at the State University of New York at New Paltz.


"The real strength of this book is the careful reconstruction of the daily lives of the wartime women both on the job and in the community. The author takes us into that inner world of events and experiences, by way of the oral testimony of the workers themselves. " — Pete Hoefer, AFL-CIO

"There can be little question of the continuing significance of the topic. The author joins an important and ongoing debate in a very forceful way. " — Charles Stephenson