She was a national symbol of women’s empowerment, a pop-culture icon for women’s equality (or at least a vision for equality). And she didn’t know it for 40 years. In 1942, when 17-year-old Geraldine Doyle worked in a factory for only two weeks, her photo was snapped by a photographer which inspired the artist who created the Rosie the Riveter poster. Yes, Geraldine was the model for the famous image and she didn’t know it until 1984.
My mother was a sort of Rosie the Riveter for me. She became the first female vice president of our local bank. She worked hard from her entry-level teller position all the way up the ladder to break this glass ceiling. And she did so without complaining about the inequities that still existed between she and her male colleagues. In fact, I wasn’t conscious of the barriers she must have experienced during her many years at that bank. I only knew my mother had a successful career, was an involved and caring mother and a loyal partner to my father. She was my “We Can Do It” model from which I gained the attitude that there were no ceilings in my way.
I’m grateful to her. And to the millions of Rosie’s who redefined the possibilities for women. And to all who continue to break ceilings for my daughter and future generations.