Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon of World War II and I am sure that many of you have seen her image in the last years, either as a cartoon character, print, logo and so much more. Her image has circled the world and ended up to be not only a vintage sensation but a hip modern reference too.

She represented all the women who worked in factories during World War II. Many of these women were producing war supplies and munitions, so she quickly become the image of the movement “We Can Do It!”

Rosie the Riveter
“We Can Do It!” by J. Howard Miller

The Story

Rosie was created as part of a propaganda campaign to encourage women to work. Little did they know of the impact Rosie would have and how she contributed to the change and empowerment of women.

She was not supposed to enhance in any way the role of women in society and she was meant just to portray the ideal female worker, as more military equipment was being produced and many men went fighting in the war. But some ideas, characters or symbols grow beyond their initial purpose, just as it has happened with Rosie the Riveter.

The Symbol of Independent Women

Rosie became the symbol of independent women and she was embraced by many women’s groups after the war has ended. In many ways, she opened the work force for women.

Even if most jobs were returned to men, after the end of the war, some women kept their jobs in factories. Nonetheless, they proved they can do the same work and even better for a lower payment, which was very appealing for any businessman.

Furthermore, the perception of what a woman can do changed forever. She was no longer seen as the housewife and the mother. Now, she was seen as powerful and capable, doing a man’s job as good as anyone!

Norman Rockwell’s poster of “Rosie the Riveter”

Paving the Way for Gender Equality

Something changed in women too… Their imagination ran wild and they could see themselves – probably for the first time – as independent and strong, yet glamorous and stylish. Rosie has a beautiful mixture of these two sides that in time led to the modern working woman, as we know it today. The woman who is both practical and stylish, both tough and delicate, feminine.

Rosie opened up the doors for women and paved the way for gender equality. She contributed to the beginning of a new world, a modern world where everyone can be a CEO or an astronaut and everyone – men and women – helps in shaping a better world.

Did You Know?

  • Rosie was created by Pittsburgh artist J. Howard Miller in 1942. He was hired by the Westinghouse Company’s War Production Coordinating Committee to create a couple of posters related to the war efforts. The “We Can Do It!” poster was one of them.
  • The initial poster was not named “Rosie the Riveter” and the character actually received this name after the war.
  • The poster is based on a photo of an actual worker at Alameda Naval Air Station in California
  • The poster didn’t have a long life during the war and it was only on display for about 2 weeks until February 1943. It was only in the 1980s that the poster was rediscovered, receiving the nickname of “Rosie the Riveter”
  • It was the poster of Norman Rockwell that received distribution and became hugely popular back then, in the 1943, even though we are much familiar today with the Miller version.
  • “Rosie the Riveter” came from a song with the same name by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb
Cover of the published music to the song “Rosie the Riveter” (copyright 1942)

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