In March of 2017, the observance of National Rosie the Riveter Day was approved.
Spearheaded by Phyllis Gould, one of the original Rosie the Riveters, she also pushed for a Gold Medal for Rosies.
The day is not meant to just celebrate Rosie, but to recognize all of the women who played an instrumental part in our war efforts.
The image of Rosie the Riveter has become synonymous with the idea of women breaking barriers and challenging gender norms. The iconic poster of Rosie flexing her muscles and declaring “We Can Do It!” has been reproduced countless times and has become a staple of popular culture.
However, the story of Rosie the Riveter goes way beyond the image.
It represents a pivotal moment in history when women proved that they were capable of doing anything they set their minds to.
The real-life Rosie the Riveters were diverse, coming from different backgrounds and ethnicities. They worked long hours and faced discrimination and harassment, but they persevered and helped to win the war.
Rosie the Riveter continues to inspire women today to break barriers and fight for equality.
Who was Rosie the Riveter?
Rosie the Riveter was a cultural icon that represented the women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II. The term “Rosie the Riveter” was first used in a song of the same name in 1942, which was written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb.
The song was inspired by Rosalind P. Walter, who worked as a riveter on Corsair fighter planes and became a national celebrity after being featured in a newspaper article.
However, the most famous image of Rosie the Riveter is the “We Can Do It!” poster created by J. Howard Miller in 1942.
The poster was commissioned by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation to boost worker morale and encourage women to join the workforce. Many believed the government created this poster, which is definitely not the case!
Although the poster was not widely circulated during the war, it gained popularity in the 1980s and has since become an iconic symbol of feminism and women’s empowerment.
During World War II, millions of women entered the workforce to replace the men who had gone off to fight in the war. Women worked in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, aviation, and transportation.
Many of these jobs were traditionally considered “men’s work,” and women faced discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
However, the women who worked during the war proved that they were just as capable as men and paved the way for future generations of women to enter the workforce.
The Role of Women in World War II
During World War II, women played a significant role in the war effort. With men being drafted into the military, women were called upon to fill the labor gap. They took on jobs in factories and defense plants, producing the materials needed to support the war effort.
Women also volunteered for military service, with over 350,000 women serving in the armed forces.
Many women who had not been wage earners before the war entered the workforce, and by the end of the war, over 18 million women were working in the United States. This was a significant shift in the traditional gender roles of the time, and it paved the way for future generations of women to pursue careers outside of the home.
Women’s contributions to the war effort were not limited to the workforce. They also served as nurses, ambulance drivers, and in other support roles.
Women also participated in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), and Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs).
Despite the important role that women played during the war, they faced discrimination and unequal pay. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the women’s rights movement gained momentum and significant progress was made towards gender equality.
The Iconic Image of Rosie the Riveter
The famous Rosie the Riveter image was created by J. Howard Miller in 1942 for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation’s wartime production campaign to recruit female workers.
The image, titled “We Can Do It!” features a woman in overalls and a bandana flexing her bicep. Despite not being associated with anyone named Rosie, the image has become synonymous with the name.
Interestingly, the woman featured in the “We Can Do It!” poster was not a real person, but rather a composite of several real-life women. One of the women who posed for the poster was Naomi Parker Fraley, who worked in a Navy machine shop during the war. Fraley was not credited for her role in the creation of the poster until 2015, when a historian discovered that she was the real-life inspiration for the image.
Since then, the image of Rosie the Riveter has been used in a variety of ways, including as a symbol of feminism and women’s rights. In 2000, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp featuring the “We Can Do It!” image.
Fun Facts about Rosie the Riveter
Here are a few fun facts we found:
- The iconic “We Can Do It!” poster featuring Rosie the Riveter was not widely used during the war. It was actually rediscovered in the 1980s and became popular as a symbol of feminism.
- While Rosie the Riveter is often associated with factory work, there were actually many different occupations that women took on during the war, including pilots, nurses, and even spies.
- The name “Rosie the Riveter” was inspired by a popular song of the time called “Rosie the Riveter” which was about a woman who worked in a factory.
- The real-life inspiration for Rosie the Riveter is believed to be a woman named Naomi Parker Fraley, who worked in a Navy machine shop during the war.
- Although Rosie the Riveter is often depicted wearing a red bandana, this was not a common accessory for women working in factories during World War II. In fact, the bandana was more commonly worn by women working in agriculture or other outdoor jobs.
These fun facts show that Rosie the Riveter was not just a symbol, but a real person who represented the hard work and dedication of women during World War II. Her legacy continues to inspire women today.
Rosie the Riveter’s Legacy
Rosie the Riveter’s legacy is one of empowerment, resilience, and progress.
Her iconic image has become a symbol of women’s economic and social awakening, inspiring generations of women to break down barriers and defy expectations.
She has been given recognition in so many ways over the years including:
- Carnival Cruise line had a restaurant on one of their ships called Rosie’s Restaurant, a tribute to Rosie.
- The singer, Pink, would dress up as Rosie while singing her hit song “Raise Your Glass”.
- Two other inspiring women workers, Wendy the Welder and Josephine the Plumber, were inspired by Rosie’s fame.
- The children’s book Rosie Revere, Engineer features Rosie as the main character.
As you can see Rosie’s reach was far – and wide. She continues to be a role model and inspiration to women!
Ford Motor Company Workers Celebrate Rosie
The women working at the Ford Woodhaven Stamping Plant are brining Rosie to life during the month of March 2023. They are hoping to inspire women to go into manufacturing as a career!
Cassandra Valentine, a tool and die maker at at the plant, is leading the initiative. She has worked in the trades for over 30 years and wants to build awareness around the opportunities.
The creation of the display at the plant was created from authentic images and details provided from the Rosie the Riveter Archives.
Proof that women of today are still being inspired by what women did more than 80 years ago!
One of the features of the display is the recreation of images from the 1940’s with workers of today. Each worker then adds their thoughts as to why those chose a career in manufacturing.
So, if you are a woman and not sure what career path to take. Manufacturing, or any skilled trade may be just the opportunity you are looking for. And clearly, you will be in great company if you do!