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Assumption about women on WWII homefront not 100 percent accurate

By Staff | Jan 22, 2010

The Economist


In your Jan. 2nd-8th story on women in the workforce, you stated that in World War II American government had to summon up the image of Rosie the Riveter with her flexed muscle in order to get women into the workforce. We are conducting research of Rosie the Riveters, women who during that time were called Women Ordinance Workers (WOWs), and none of the 100 interviews we have completed remember this or other posters in the large government campaign to get women to take jobs vacated by men.

Instead, they report that they felt a huge need to help, and they did not see the poster until much later, when it gradually became an icon for WOWs. Sometimes they answered newspaper ads, but usually they went to a given job because they had friends or family who worked for that factory or government agency. They almost never went alone, and one woman went with 30 family members from West Virginia to Detroit to make airplanes in the converted Ford Motor Plant.

Recently, we invited Belgium to be the first allied nation to thank these women for their contribution during World War II, they quickly agreed, and the Belgian Embassy in Washington sent Lt. Col. Martine Dierckx. Her speech, given at Shepherd University in West Virginia, is clearly historic. In it, she discusses the impact of the work of Rosies then and now. The speech and public comments can be seen on our website at www.thanksplainandsimple.org

Anne Montague, Executive Director

Thanks! Plain and Simple, Inc.