You know this image… social scientists and feminists love it. But do you know the story behind it?
The image was created by American graphic artist. J. Howard Miller. Listverse reveals the interesting details behind its production. The image has been reappropriated by feminists to inspire women’s agency, but the poster was actually produced as pro-war propaganda in the USA during the 1940s. Most astounding of all is that the woman who inspired this poster, Geraldine Doyle, became aware of her role as muse for one of the most iconic representations of female empowerment FORTY YEARS after the fact!
In 1941, Miller’s work came to the attention of the Westinghouse Company and he was hired to create a series of posters to sponsor the company’s War Production Coordinating Committee. This poster is commonly called Rosie the Riveter, however at the time of the poster’s release that name wasn’t associated with the picture. That came a year later later when a popular patriotic song called “Rosie the Riveter came out. The poster became a symbol for women who produced war supplies and took new jobs replacing the male workers who were in the military. Miller based the “We Can Do It!” poster on a United Press International picture taken of Geraldine Doyle working at a factory. Ironically, Doyle only lasted two weeks on the job before quitting because she feared a hand injury would prevent her from playing her cello. The poster did not become widely known until the 1970s and 80s when it began to be used by advocates of women’s equality in the workplace.