Rosie’s Enduring Legacy?

When you begin writing about something like Rosie the Riveter friends start sending you everything they find that has to do with Rosie….  Today’s link from a friend was from the Ford Motor Company–a paid slide show post on the New York Times (international) website.

Ford Motor Company branding campaign

Ford Motor Company branding campaign

Apparently Rosie is part of their branding campaign, you know, because of all those women working in Ford factories….. Actually, I have no idea how many women work in Ford factories today and in all fairness, it does make some sense–Ford Motor Company employed a lot of women in their factories during World War II.  But like everyone else, the company sent them back to work in their own homes after the troops came home.

After the war ended, factories returned to their automotive roots, but the imagery from the era remained a symbol of empowerment for female workers of all industries. In the 1980s, Miller’s “We Can Do It!” poster was rediscovered and re-appropriated as a feminist symbol. Today, its imagery still graces everything from dorm room walls to celebrity Instagram accounts. Though women have yet to reach workplace equality, the original Rosies remain a rallying point for a movement whose momentum hasn’t abated.

And of course the irony here is that the “symbol of empowerment for female workers” really wasn’t “for all workers” as this particular slide maintains. Let’s remember, that while 2007 Bureau of Labor Statistics reports cite women welders at about 6% , current numbers have gone down–perhaps due to the recession–and now only 2% of welders are women.

But even 6% is nothing to write home about.

So really, it’s all symbol and little substance…..

About Jennifer Simpson

Writer, marketing consultant, community builder and teacher. Director of DimeStories International, where authors share their 3-minute stories at open mic events and online. Publisher and editor of the I WRITE BECAUSE project. Find out more at
This entry was posted in Gender Equality, Rosie the Riveter, Rosie the Riveter History. Bookmark the permalink.

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