The Life & Times of Rosie the Riveter Gallardo Study Guide



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The Life & Times of Rosie the Riveter Gallardo

Study Guide
During World War II, an unprecedented number of American women responded to government encouragement to enter the high-paying world of heavy war-production industry. Women who had worked at pink-collar jobs, or in lower-paying women's industrial jobs, flocked to war production work as an opportunity to learn new skills and make higher wages.
We’ve been talking about the socialization of gender, and the dynamic nature of cultural change, identifying parents, peers, media, education, etc. as factors influencing our gender identity. In this film, we see the overt manipulation of gender identity by the U.S. government as the need for factory workers during WWII overrides traditional gender norms. As you watch the film, pay attention to the types of arguments and images the various posters and ads use to influence women to enter the workplace, and then after the war, to leave it. Listen carefully to women as they give their own stories about how they chose to respond.
1) What backgrounds did these women come from before the war? What sort of labor segregation did they experience, both with regards to race and to gender?
2) What drew the women into the factories? What did the propaganda films say had drawn them? What do the women interviewed say?
3) How did the propaganda films depict women's work before the war? Why did they show women pursuing leisure activities--for example, playing cards?
4) How did the propaganda films make connections between domestic labor and women's job skills in the industrial workplace? Why did the films make this connection?
5) How did male and female war workers interact? Did women in war work face job segregation and/or discrimination by race? By gender? By race?

6) What did women get out of their war work? In what ways were their experiences as war workers new to them? In what ways were they continuations of patterns of work outside the home they had pursued before the war?


7) Why was union activity significant in war working women's lives? What strategies of organization did women learn from their union experiences?
8) How did women in war work balance the demands on them as mothers and as workers? What strategies for survival did they adopt?
9) The documentary contains a propaganda film aimed at women workers, telling them that it was their fault when war production fell. Why did the film blame women?
10) How was patriotism used to influence women's behavior?
11) After the war, what were the women war workers expected to do? What did the workers themselves expect? Did they resist expectations that they would give up their work? What did these women do with the rest of their lives?


--Study guide by Catherine Lavender, CUNY


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