Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rosie the Riveter

Let me say for one thing , my Economic Anthro class brings a new perspective on things. I've been wanting so badly to write about certain topics, just haven't had the time to, even though I've been promising.

So yesterday, the topic was basically on women and their basic duties in society. When you think about it, women have come a long way. Not to say that our college attendance is basically equal or maybe now even slightly higher than men.

Taking a history lesson back to the 1940s when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and Theodore Roosevelt declared war on Japan. Many of the men had so much pride being American that the best solution was to go represent the United States in the military. As men were being shipped off for duty, they left behind many women, children, and loved ones.

Back then as we all know was the typical stereotype of men being the breadwinner and women working at home, taking care of the children. With the men gone for military service, the industrial sector needed someone to fill their positions - women. As dangerous as it was, women were enrolling to work in these industrial jobs, as wielders, ship builders, engineers, etc. No longer were women only restricted to "feminized" roles. Many women were so eager to join the workforce not only to support their country in a good cause, but also to make a life for themself.

Despite the harsh conditions and toiling hours, these women actually looked forward to going to work to make money for themselves and their family. They felt independence in excelling at a job that men did.

As the war effort continued for years, women stayed at these jobs and acquired skills so fast that it became a profession for them. These women had to learn the trade in a matter of days in order to continue the running economy, and they did just that.

Now when the war was over, women dreamed of new opportunities in the workforce, but that's exactly the opposite of what they found. As if there was no war at all, men resumed their positions in the economy, and automatically women were laid off. Because some women loved their newfound independence, they tried desperately to find any job, much to no avail. These women were not satisfied with being the housewife, but wanted a job to help support their family and themselves. Because industrial jobs had masculine labels attached to it, women had no choice but to accept feminine jobs like housekeeper, waitress, cook, cleaning lady, teacher, secretary for meager pay, a far less compensation compared to jobs they had when the war was going on.

Women who had jobs while their husbands were back from war were greatly ridiculed, especially in the media. They were seen as not caring for their children or family life at all...

My fascination with this subject lies in the question of women in the workforce today. If it wasn't for "Rosie the Riveter" who took over the industrial sector during war, would there ever be an existence of women working full-time jobs today outside the home? Nowadays, it's seldom to see a one parent sponsored household, and more likely for the husband AND wife to work a job in order to support their lifestyle. Why is it so necessary now for women to pursue greater eduation in order to find a professional job? This is the evolution of women in the workplace, an evolution of an independent woman who sees the importance of acquiring her own lifestyle, a sense of internal accomplishment.

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