“Can you use an electric mixer? If so, you can learn to operate a drill.”! This slogan was one of many, used for government propaganda, to entice housewives to go to work, during WWII. The work was mainly, munition assembly line, jobs. So many men were drafted and volunteered to go to war, they needed SOMEONE to fill the emptied, workforce and to make war supplies, for America. “Rosie the Riveter” became a cultural icon, who represented these women. The first time “Rosie the Riveter” term popped up was, in 1942. It was a song title that was written by Redd Evans and covered by many artists, during the time. The song was a national hit, that described the tireless efforts, of the female, assembly line workers. Fellow Pittsburgher, J. Howard Miller was hired by, Westinghouse (a war production committee) to design a series of pro-America, pro-war posters, in 1942. One of these donned the famous, tagline, “We Can Do It!”. Under those words, there is a painting of a tough, brunette in uniform, hair tied up in a red bandana, showing her muscle off, to the world. The image came to be known as “Rosie the Riveter”. In July 1944, it was recorded that 20 MILLION women were employed, in the U.S. (57% more, in 2 years!) Never-before-seen numbers like that fueled more women to take the war, in stride.. to be who they could be, and do what they had to do. The propaganda worked, and even women that lost their men to battle, continued their effort, to help the USA. A “Riveter”‘s standard work week was 48 hours, with Sunday off and usually no vacation, or holiday time. Even though women proved to be star-spangled, America’s employers still treated them unequally, to men. When a woman took the “man’s job”, she was paid considerably less (if a man was getting $56/week, a woman made $31/week, comparably) and they treated them, poorly. And, what happened when the war ended? We had gone and empowered our American, ladies! Yet, when the soldiers came marching home, they were expected to march back into the kitchen. Some say “Rosie the Riveter” & the WWII female workforce, opened the jobs door forever, to women. Others don’t quite, agree. Facts show that after the war, many women did go back to domestication and others ended up doing clerical or shop, work. One thing is for certain, women proved they could do the same work, as men and laid ground for the contemporary, women’s movement. Professor Leila J. Crupp, studied the “Rosie the Riveter”, effect and stated: “For the first time, the working woman dominated the public image. Women were riveting housewives in slacks, not mother, domestic beings, or civilizers.” It still amazes me that it took until, 2009 for our Government to sign into law, a women’s equal pay bill, known as the “Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act” (thank you, Obama!) .. So ladies, proudly hang your “Rosie the Riveter” posters, up and remember how far, we’ve come!


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