World War II: Aid to Women
Oregon's shipyards employed more than twice the percentage of female workers than other states' war industries--some 26,000 women--and the YWCA worked hard to keep up with women workers' changing needs. As part of its contribution to the U.S.O., two new "lounges" were opened at the Taylor Street building, one for "Service Women" and one for "Women Workers." Here women could find rest, refreshments, recreation, information, and sociability. Some observers noted that the average Portlander "does not like the newcomers and is counting [on] their 'going home' as soon as the war is over." By contrast, the YWCA tried to be "useful to the newcomer population," with an eye toward expanding its membership and constituency.
By embracing the cause of labor, the YWCA found an ally in mak ing themselves heard in a growing and increasingly clamorous city. The Publicity Department proudly announced this idealism after the war: "Today American Labor and the Young Women's Christian Association stand shoulder to shoulder as champions of the worker's right to a full life." This spirit faded in the 1950s, when McCarthyism tainted labor activists as anti-American.