Look Beyond the Surface

World War II was a hard time for many Americans, because many families sent their sons to fight to keep our country safe, and more than ten million men sent to war (1). With all the men off at war there was a shortage of people working in the workforce, and they needed women to step in to keep the factories going during the war.  In the well-known Howard J. Miller poster of “Rosie the Riveter” we see that women were encouraged and recruited to work for their country so that the US could succeed in the war.  Howard J. Miller poster effectively provokes the women to join the workforce, empowering them to go beyond their traditional roles as women and understand the necessity for them to work for the greater good of their country.

The words use “We can do it!” is printed in bold print and ends with an exclamation mark. The way that the words were presented shows just enough info to understand and short enough to remember what Miller is trying to convey. The American government wanted women to work outside the house to close the gap of worker shortages.  They need women to work to manufacture all the products needed for war.

Miller uses colors as an underlining meaning.  He used red, white, and blue, the colors of the American flag, in Rosie’s outfit showing that she is patriotic.  “Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.”(2).  Red symbolizes the hardiness and valor that women in the 1940’s showed while their men were off at war by running the house and working in the workforce. White symbolized purity and innocence of the USA. Blue represented vigilance and perseverance that the country needed women to have to work in numerous different jobs to make up for the men that were off fighting at war.   In the bible, yellow represents God’s perfect light.  Yellow also represents happiness, hopefulness and optimism. The background color represents that even though a family member is gone we need to pray for their safe return from war and remain optimistic.

Miller made sure that Rosie’s clothing helped women visualize what they would look like in a workforce outfit.   Rosie is wearing a blue shit which represents blue collared workers, the working class.  This shows that Rosie is ready to take her place in the job market, and her example leads other women to rethink the old tradition of men’s jobs verses women’s job does not matter anymore.  “The entry of married women into the work place caused their percentage of total female employment to grow 28% from 1929 to 1940, particularly women in the 25 to 44 age group increased 13.8%.” (3). The increase just shows how persuasive this poster was and the push for women to join really was successful. Rosie the Riveter was one of America’s best recruitment tools in history (4).   Another reminder that the work shirt gave the women during WWII was the means of survival.  Without women working productivity how would have the US survived and what would have been the outcome.  During wars productivity needs to increase to keep up with demands of both the military and the citizens.

Miller even uses facial expression to show just the importance that women need to work. Rosie has a very stern and determined look on her face.  This stern look shows she is ready to focus on the task that is ahead of her and her task ahead of her is to help out her country in any way that she can.  Her face not only shows this determination to work, but also the determination for her country to succeed, and to bring the love ones back to safety. This face really shows the determination of the American women during War. Her flexed bicep shows she is ready to take on the task that the government has asked the women to do. Women can be as strong as men and can do what men can do.  The stereotype at the time was that men had certain abilities and women had others; though these jobs never seem to mix.  This changed during the war when women worked in many different jobs in the workforce.

Her hair is curled and she has makeup on her face; showing that she is a woman.  Even though she is women she is capable of working a man’s job, and at the time “most people believed that men should be the sole breadwinner in the family, and as a result women were among the last hired in the early stages of the war”(1).  These ideas made women skeptical about joining the workforce and Rosie the Riveter encourage them to join the workforce to help out the nation.   Women kept on trying to get jobs to help out there nation and Rosie the Riveter was the inspiration.

Overall “Rosie the Riveter” helped persuade American women to join the work force.  This poster gave women a visualization of what the government needed women to do as they join the workforce. Howard J. Miller poster effectively provokes the women to join the workforce and to really understand why it is necessity for then to work for the greater good of their country.


(2) “History of American Flag.” History of American Flag. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2012  <http://www.usa-flag-site.org/history.shtml&gt;.

(3)”Women in World War II.” Women in World War II. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2012. <https://netfiles.uiuc.edu/xtang2/www/w3.html&gt;.

(4)”Rosie the Riveter.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2012. <http://www.history.com/topics/rosie-the-riveter&gt;.

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