The title for the top WWII female icon, no doubt, goes to Rosie the Riveter. Rosie represented the American women who took up work in the factories in order to fill the vacancies left by the men enrolled in the service. The continued demands of manufacturing munitions and war supplies during WWII made women’s role crucial. Rosie not only represented feminism, but also women’s economic power. Once the war was over, however, it was anticipated that these women would return to their housework.
The government used various means to encourage women to join the work forces. However, much of it was directed at the husbands who seemed reluctant to support their wife’s employment. Rosie the Riveter’s journey began with a song title. The song, written by Redd Evans and John Loeb, used a fictitious character Rosie to represent women doing their part to assist the war efforts at home - despite their tireless task of being assembly line workers.
As the song gained popularity, Rose Will Monroe, a woman working as a riveter during WWII, was given the opportunity to star in a film about the war efforts at home. Monroe seemed the closest fit to the persona of the woman described in the song “Rosie the Riveter”. Her appearance in the film began her claim to fame as what could possibly be described as the most recognized icon of the WWII era. She went on to appear in additional films and on posters in an effort to encourage women to work outside the home in support of the war. Her involvement is said to have had a dramatic impact on the number of women in the work force – possibly as high as a 57% increase. In her 50’s, Monroe realized a life-long dream of piloting a plane. She had a passion for flying and eventually received her pilot’s license. In 1978, at age 58, Monroe almost died when she crashed her plane during takeoff. The accident left her impaired. In 1997, Rose Will Monroe died at home peacefully in 1997 at age 77.
It is sometimes disputed whether this era gave rise to the women’s movement in entering, and being accepted, in the work force. Either way, during the World War II era Rosie the Riveter changed the public image of the American woman, making Rosie the top WWII female icon.