World War II factories turning out ammunition, weapons, artillery, airplanes and other items needed on the battlefield depended on women to fill jobs while men fought on the front lines. After the war, many women entered the civilian workforce to help pay the bills of an American economy fueled by home ownership, new cars and a huge selection of consumer goods available in the postwar prosperity.
Working women are commonplace now, and attention has shifted to working students, many still in high school. Many of the same financial pressures that families faced in the 1950s and 1960s -- car payments, electronic gadgets, off-the-rack clothing -- are luring more and more teenagers into the workplace.
Students who hold jobs, keep up grades and maintain a social life are pressed for time. Some critics say students should work less, and they blame parents for allowing their children to get jobs when they should be paying more attention to their grades. But many parents, particularly those who had similar goals when they were in school, see tremendous value in the real-life experiences of managing a schedule that includes classes, work and play.
There are few absolutes when it comes to determining whether holding a job while finishing high school is a good or bad thing. But there is a need for balance for teenagers, just as adults who are stressed out by the financial demands of their lifestyles need to find ways to do their jobs and maintain healthy -- physical and emotional -- lives.
Working students who maintain high grades are usually those who have found ways to live well and work hard.