The student-faculty Political Association held a conference, “Women in a Changing World,” on the opportunities and problems for women arising from the war emergency.  “In this war you will have opportunities,” Columbia professor Marjorie Hope Nicolson told the gathering in her keynote address, “such as no generation of women has ever faced, and upon your generation much of the ultimate future of women will depend.” Acknowledging that deciding whether to leave college to join the war effort or not had to be an individual one, balancing patriotic feeling—even the “right” to remain in school—against completing their studies in hope of contributing more fully later. Seemingly inclined toward the latter option, she declared that “college women of today have a profound duty to carry on our cultural tradition in both the sciences and the humanities, so that there shall not be a definite break and a serous cultural lag.”

Other speakers at the three-day conference held different views.  Dr. Margaret Hagood of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics said that in agriculture “as in industry, the logical source of supply to meet the record food needs of armed forces and civilians this year is women not already in the labor market, students and housewives.”  Mary Dublin, formerly of the Office of Civilian Defense in Washington, declared that “if we learn how to mobilize our full resources for peace as we did for war,” a full labor force engaged in war production, along with men now in the armed services, could be remobilized to enhance postwar living standards.  Frieda Miller former State Commissioner of Labor warned that issues of equal pay and unemployment insurance for women entering the wartime work force would need to be addressed, and Charles Rose, manager of the Poughkeepsie office of the United States Employment Service, offered the opinion that “actual conscription of womanpower” wasn’t necessary, because “women would answer voluntarily when the need was made clear.”

Ensign Nona Baldwin ’39 of the WAVES and Lieutenant Alline Pino of the Waacs cited the increasing quotas for these services as evidence of women’s eagerness to serve and of their value in support of the fighting forces.     The New York Times