March 17, 2021
March 21st is—that’s right—National Rosie the Riveter Day. In 1943, Rosie and her girls weren’t playing. They made up 65 percent of the U.S. aviation industry—up from 1 percent in 1941. That’s right, your Girls Next Door built those American-made bombers that were busy ripping up the Nazi Wehrmacht in World War II. By the way, it was personal. Tons of Rosies were also military spouses—like my own beloved grandmother, Dorothy (Dot for short).
Dot and her trusty blowtorch assembled U.S. bombers in Long Beach, California. At barely five feet tall, she could shimmy into every corner of the plane’s skeleton, with sparks flying. Grandma got so good so quickly, she became Douglas Aircraft’s first-ever female Master Welder. Working long hours under sweltering conditions, the 330 thousand women like Dot shattered barriers in the aviation industry. And women everywhere surged into the workforce.
Again, military spouses (and women in general) face disproportionate unemployment levels—cough, I’m looking at you COVID. I’ll say it’s time for the spirit of Rosie the Riveter to sweep the nation. Military spouse unemployment remains unacceptably high hovering at 25 percent, and more than 3 million American women left the workforce during the pandemic.
Back to Dot. The troops came back, and she turned in her Rosie sleeves. Grandma passed her work ethic and values on to her eight awesome kids, and at age 45, she embarked on a three-decade career as the town’s best nurse.
What I mean is, sometimes the universe throws us a curve ball and our careers veer off course. It’s not permanent. Troubles will pass. Women will—as we always do—rise to the challenge. C’mon Rosie…why wait? #Rosiereturns