The icon of Rosie the Riveter challenged the gender stereotype of American women in mid-20th century America. Rosie the Riveter is significant because, despite being a woman, she was also a worker, which was typically seen as a masculine role. Whilst many women had worked before World War II, it is important to note that not many white middle class women worked. For these women, their role was seen to be in the home, looking after their husband and raising children. However, since the war created a labour shortage, white middle class women were able to work in jobs that could no longer be taken by men, many of whom were fighting in the US army. Rosie the Riveter’s ethnicity is important; since she is white, the character suggests that the role of women who, previously, could only aspire to be housewives, were capable of working in the same world as men. Rosie the Riveter acted as an icon to challenge the idea that women were not welcome in the workplace.
Rosie the Riveter is also important in the period soon after World War II. Whilst women were still far away from gender equality, they had made significant steps towards it during World War II. However, after the war, many women were forced to give up their jobs to returning soldiers, as society still asserted that a woman’s place was in the home and a man’s place at work. Whilst during the 1940s Rosie had been a symbol of how women were capable of contributing to the workforce, during the 1950s it had become an icon of a bygone era for women. Rosie the Riveter continued to be used as a feminist icon, showing how women were fully capable of working in the same jobs as men.