Rosie the Riveter was a fictional character that was created to encourage women to join the work force during World War II. Men were sent off to war and they left production jobs, factory jobs, and many other positions that needed to be filled. Unprecedented numbers of women entered the world of work, marking the beginning of a major movement of women in industry.
The United States on the Eve of World War II:
In December 1941, the United States' economy was still recovering from the hard-hitting depression. The Great Depression reinforced the system of women as the backbone of the family, who was to stay home and take care of the household duties and raise the children. These duties often had to be carried out through unsophisticated means, as the benefits of technology had not yet entered the average home. In 1941, one-third of all households were still cooking with wood or coal; and water often had to be carried from an outside source. (1) The hardships that women faced day in and day out began to take their toll, but all too often there was no other option. Most women that did have jobs were either unmarried or were forced out of economic necessity. In 1940, out of the 11.5 million employed women, the majority of women would quit their jobs once married. (2) The traditional mentality of the population was that married women did not belong in the workplace. A 1936 poll showed that eighty-two percent of the American population felt that if a woman was married and her husband had a job, she did not need to work. (3) Women's roles were defined by society who told them that their main concern needed to be their family responsibilities. Once the United States entered the war following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, demands for enormous mobilization of troops left millions of jobs vacant. The war material already being produced for our European Allies was not sufficient for the new role that this country assumed. More material was needed, yet the bodies to make...
Bibliography: Gluck, Sherna Berger. Rosie the Riveter Revisited: Women, The War, and Social Change.
Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987.
Harvey, Paul. Fact Sheets. October 1996.
Honey, Maureen. Creating Rosie the Riveter. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1984
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