Although Rosie may seem like a cliché image when representing feminism and/or women empowerment, the history of her creation and the women she has represented, historically and presently, deserve recognition. In the 1940’s, during WWII, Rosie’s image was used in ads to recruit women into traditionally male-dominated jobs because American men had been recruited into the war and the jobs, they left behind were left vacated. In order to keep the US going, the government and other industries had to get creative. Women were recruited into various fields including skilled trades such as welding, riveting, repairing engines, and assembling and connecting motors.
The greatest surge was in the aviation industry with women making up 65% of its total workforce. Not only did these women keep our country going while the men were at war, they were also a major part of the war effort as they further worked in producing heavy machinery like trucks, tanks, and airplanes used in combat. This was not the first-time women were recruited into non-traditional jobs.
During WWI, due to similar circumstances created by the draft, women were recruited into similar skilled-trades and combat-related jobs. Unfortunately, as still observed today, women were paid much less (53%) than their male counterparts for the same exact jobs which they performed just as well and sometimes even better than the men who held them in the first place. Of course, women of that time did not stand for these ridiculous pay discrepancies, so they began objecting and were the early pioneers of the efforts toward pay equity across genders.
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The image we associate with female empowerment during World War II was only displayed for two weeks at the time–and few Americans ever even saw it. Why is it so popular today?
This article does a nice job providing background.
Rosalind Walter was best known to the world as the original “Rosie The Riveter.” In 1942, Rosalind was working at a plant in Connecticut drilling rivets into Corsair fighter planes during the night shift. Her job was usually done by a man. There was a newspaper article written about her, which inspired the 1942 song “Rosie The Riveter.” The video shows not only images and video but also the lyrics of the song.