Creating Rosie the Riveter: class, gender, and propaganda by Maureen Honey

By Maureen Honey

Creating Rosie the Riveter examines ads and fiction released within the Saturday night Post and True Story which will convey how propaganda was once used to motivate ladies to go into the workforce.

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Additional resources for Creating Rosie the Riveter: class, gender, and propaganda during World War II

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19 The dominant image of the war worker's eager return to the home in the media belied the reality of women's resistance to losing their improved status in the work force as well as the fact that most needed to find alternative employment. Despite some ineffectual protests from laid-off workers, women found themselves at the end of the war in nearly the Page 24 same discriminatory situation they had faced prior to Pearl Harbor. 3 percent of women production workers had been employed in higher-paying durable goods industries in November 1943, only 25 percent of these workers were in such jobs by November 1946.

These assumptions provided a framework for the recruitment campaign that reinforced false beliefs about working women.  Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Sta- tistics, "Postwar Labor Turn-Over among Women Factory Workers," by Clara Schloss and Ella Polinsky, Monthly Labor Review 64 (March 1947): 41119. Page 26 ity of having them available as a temporary source of workers. The Census Bureau, for example, made a detailed analysis for the War Manpower Commission (WMC) of potential entrants to the labor force and concluded that married women without children under ten would be the best source of workers for the duration of the war.

In addition, half of the major production areas employed significant numbers of black women. In four of those, they comprised from less than 10 to 19 percent of the female work force and, in Baltimore, were one third of all women workers. 5 Undoubtedly, some of the women taking war jobs did so for patriotic reasons. However, given their extensive prewar work histories, it appears that war workers came primarily from the ranks of women who needed to earn a wage in peacetime as well, either to supplement family income or to support themselves.

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