How Rosie Dressed for Success (and Safety)



I really wonder how many  women needed to be told not to wear high heels for work at the shipyard.

Many of the women who took on shipyard jobs came from the farmlands of  the Midwest, or from the Dust Bowl. They knew about hard work.  They would have known how to dress. At least the high heels part.

It’s also interesting to note that the “proper” way to dress is still pretty form-fitting to show off those womanly curves.

In reality, “You couldn’t tell one from the other unless you saw their welding outfit, or you had a torch,” said Rosa Duran, who worked in the Kaiser Shipyards from 1942 to 1945.**

Seriously, health and safety were big concerns. In the 1930s 37 per 100,000 manual labor workers died each year.  In addition to encouraging safety, Kaiser established  a health care program for the workers at the shipyards.  Though not completely altruistic–onsite clinics kept the workers healthy and working–this was an innovation in industry and would later become the Kaiser Permanente healthcare company.

Read more about the history of Kaiser on their website–>

** Excerpted from Rosie the Riveter World War II American Homefront Oral History Project: An Oral History with Evelyn Duran and Rosa Silvas conducted by DavidWashburn, 2002, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2007.
















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
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