Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
At the outbreak of World War II millions of servicemen left the United States to fight overseas, creating a great demand for workers in the production industries. Although the government identified women as the ideal source to fill the labor gap, a harsh stigma against the female worker existed from the Depression era. The United States government launched a recruitment campaign in collaboration with major advertising agencies and well-known artists in an effort to overcome this stigma and persuade women to join the industrial workforce. This recruitment campaign centered on the image of "Rosie the Riveter." This paper discusses the implications of advertising throughout World War II and most particularly at the war's close, when historians note that public attitude experienced a "reconversion'' or a restoration of the belief that women should rescind their wartime positions and return to the home. By using a systematic coding system as well as qualitative analysis to examine advertisements in Life magazine during the war years and at its end, this paper argues that despite "Rosie's" historic significance, commercial advertisements did not significantly reflect her presence. It is argued here that a message of renewed domesticity in women's role in advertising became particularly strong at the war's end, albeit not because of "Rosie's" absence, in essence, because "Rosie" was not found to exist in advertising. This paper concludes that commercial print advertising neither reflected nor contributed to the phenomenon of women taking up wartime jobs during World War II, and no conclusion is drawn about the role of advertising on women at the war's end.
Pfaff, Christina, "Rosie the Riveter vs. Helen the Homemaker : advertising and the role of women in America after World War II" (2011). Honors Theses. 1265.