We all have seen this iconic poster, right?
Even though it wasn’t draw to depict Rosie the Riveter, it was a symbol showing women in a male dominated work force during World War II. While women did indeed work outside of the home during this time, most were secretaries or some other type of clerical work. It was far and few between when you saw a woman doing and “man’s” job and even the women who were in traditional women roles would start being an exclusive home maker when they got married and kids came along.
It took having no men available to do the jobs to shake up the rigid lines of the work force and be more inclusive (although the pay definitely wasn’t on equal terms). What I definitely didn’t think about was pre-World War II. The Depression had people scrambling to look for any and all types of work, but even before that there was a need for women to do “men’s” jobs.
I stumbled across this photograph when I was looking for the traditional photograph of the day to use on Facebook for our digital collections:
These ladies were a part of a group on campus that called themselves the Carpenterettes. Men weren’t able to do a lot of the jobs during World War I since they were off fighting overseas. These ladies took matters into their own hands and did repairs around campus and even built the Y.W.C.A. hut.
We also had a group who called themselves the Farmerettes. They tended to the land and grew their own produce to make the university entirely self-sufficient.
Of course, as soon as the men returned to campus, they abandoned the clubs and returned to “normal” life.
I love running across these awesomely inspiring photographs. There just something about a whole college coming together for their country that makes my heart smile. I hope if something happened where we are thrown into this type of situation again, we would be just like these girls and step up to the plate AND get our education in. After all as Charles Duncan McIver stated, “Educate a man, and you educate an individual; educate a woman and you educated a family” (although this is becoming less and less of a true statement since gender lines have started to blur more and more).