In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the American women who joined the workforce during World War II, in recognition of their contributions to the nation and the war effort. When she introduced this bill in the 115th Congress, Rep. Speier said:
“I have had the honor and privilege of working with two real life Rosie the Riveters. Phyllis Gould has been a driving force behind the efforts to gain national recognition for all the Rosies, including herself and her sister Marion Sousa, who is an official volunteer at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond. I have also had the joy of working closely with Rosie the Riveter Park Ranger Betty Reid Soskin, who provided critical help during the war effort. These sheroes continue to blaze the trail for today’s working women, and future generations. It’s long past time that they be honored for their courage, sacrifice, and contributions to our country, and I can think of no finer recipients for the Congressional Gold Medal.”
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), an original cosponsor of this bill’s Senate companion, adds:
“World War II called upon Americans to serve in different ways. While brave service members fought abroad, women all across the nation were inspired to join the workforce due to the iconic image of Rosie the Riveter. By honoring this cultural icon, we enshrine the contributions of those women."
Wayne D. Perry, Pennsylvania State Commander of the Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars, expresses his organization’s support for this legislation:
"Our nation owes a big debt of gratitude to women who worked tirelessly and with great dedication during the World War II to support America's war effort against enemies of freedom. Many thousands of women worked in factories, with tools in their hands and sweat on their brows, to build and test machines, and supply ammunitions, that were needed on the front lines. Without this incredible workforce of women, our fighting forces overseas may not have had everything they needed to defeat the Axis forces. Therefore, the VFW supports the creation of this medal and its placement in the National Museum of American History.”
Rep. Speier filed a motion to place this legislation on the Consensus Calendar on September 12, 2019. There are 293 bipartisan House cosponsors of this legislation, including 229 Democrats and 64 Republicans. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), has 18 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including 15 Democrats and three Republicans.
Last Congress, this legislation had 29 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 28 Democrats and one Republican. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Casey, had 11 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including nine Democrats and two Republicans.
The American Rosie The Riveter Association, Pennsylvania Veterans of Foreign Wars, Marine Corps League, Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, SMART States Congressional Initiative, and other military veteran organizations support this legislation.
Of Note: During World War II, widespread male enlistment left large holes in the industrial labor force, which were filled by women. Consequently, from 1940 to 1940, women went from making 27% to nearly 37% of the workforce. Rosie the Riveter — a bandana-wearing woman in a denim work suit — was the star of a campaign designed to recruit female workers for defense industries.
By the end of World War II, nearly one out of every four married women worked outside the home. These women, who were sometimes called “Rosie the Riveters,” worked in a broad range of industries. The aviation industry saw the largest increase in female workers: in 1943, there were more than 310,000 women in the industry, comprising 65% of its workforce.
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Valerie Loiseleux)