Working Women of the 1940’s
“Rosie the Riveter”
The picture displayed above is from the 1940’s and is still seen in schools, college, universities and work places today. Many people have seen this picture, but do they actually know what it means or symbolizes?
What is the picture about?
This picture is named “Rosie the Riveter” that symbolized the millions of women of the 1940’s that took over male jobs in factories, plants and shipyards during World War II. This picture in later years was not only known as an iconic American image, but it also was in the fight to broaden women’s civil rights.
What were women doing before World War II?
Leading up to World War II, only a few women had careers, besides minorities and lower class women that did work in factories and mills already. The most popular careers among them included nursing and secretarial jobs. If women did not have a career outside the home, she had one inside. Women who worked within the home did laundry, cooked, clean and tended to her husband and children.
When World War II began, many male soldiers were called to join in the ranks of the United States military, leaving women to fill their roles in (steel) factories, shipyards and lumber mills. The government wasn’t too thrilled with having women in the workforce, but they were needed and decided it would only be temporary. Women were recruited by the government into these roles by advertisers, who showed that women that worked in this roles were glamorous and fashionable; which is also when “Rosie the Riveter” was created. Women were called to work depending on their age, race, class, martial status and number of children. But since the demand was so high for workers, the government even recruited women just graduating from high school. More than 6 million women filled male work roles and from 1940-1945 the number of women in the workforce increases from 25-36 percent. But after the war ended and the men returned home, the way of life before the men left also returned.
While women were making great strides in the work force by taking men’s positions and proving they were just as smart and strong as men, learning new skills and earning wages and benefits, they were also making great strides on the baseball field. As shown the in the film, “A League of Their Own,” women displayed their talents out on the baseball field while the men were off at war.
After men throughout the United States were being drafted to war, the game of baseball was put on hold because most of the players were off to war. But with the men off to war, this opened up a whole new world for women in the work force and on the field. At first people of America did not know what to think of women playing baseball, so in the first few games of the league, many people did not come or show any interest. But the women did not let that stop them. They showed their talents and strength out on the field for months, gaining the respect of fans and making an increased interest in women’s baseball. After the war ended many people of the United States were still interested, but in the following years the interest declined.
World War II was a horrible event that happened to the people of the United States but it was also a “foot-in-the-door” for women’s rights. During this time women displayed their strengths, smarts, talents, achievements and dedication in the workforce and on the baseball field. Even though women in the work force and on the baseball field were only temporary, it did change the road to the future.