Unveiling the Symbolic Meanings: What Does the “We Can Do It” Poster Symbolize

The “We Can Do It” poster, also known as “Rosie the Riveter,” remains one of the most iconic symbols of American culture. The poster features a determined woman rolling up her sleeves and flexing her bicep, with the words “We Can Do It!” emblazoned above her. This image has come to represent the spirit of grit, determination, and perseverance that is so deeply ingrained in the American psyche.

But what exactly does this iconic image symbolize? Some argue that it represents the important role that women played in the workforce during World War II, as men left their jobs to fight overseas. Others view it as a feminist statement, with the image of a strong, capable woman challenging traditional gender roles. Whatever its origins may be, there’s no denying that the “We Can Do It” poster continues to inspire people today.

Whether you’re facing a difficult challenge or simply need a reminder to stay focused and determined, “We Can Do It” is a powerful message that has stood the test of time. So the next time you’re feeling discouraged, remember Rosie the Riveter and her unwavering determination to get the job done. With a little grit and a lot of perseverance, anything is possible.

Rosie the Riveter

Rosie the Riveter is the iconic cultural symbol that represents the image of women who worked in factories during World War II. She represents the 6 million women who were encouraged to leave their homes and take up jobs that were traditionally held by men during the war. The character Rosie the Riveter was created by J. Howard Miller, who made the famous “We Can Do It!” poster, which is often associated with Rosie’s image.

The image of Rosie is of a young, strong, and determined woman with her sleeves rolled up, showing her biceps flexed and ready to work. She wears a red bandana over her hair, adding to her image of toughness. This character’s depiction has become a symbol of feminism, strength, and resilience, and has inspired many women over the years.

  • Rosie the Riveter highlighted the experience of women who were working in factories during World War II.
  • It represented the real-life women who worked during the war and supported the troops by working on the homefront.
  • It became an iconic cultural symbol of strength and resilience, inspiring many women to take up jobs, which were previously only considered wise for men.

World War II propaganda

During World War II, propaganda posters were widely used by governments to influence public opinion and encourage participation and support for the war effort. The “We Can Do It!” poster, also known as “Rosie the Riveter,” was one of the most iconic and influential pieces of American propaganda from this time period. This poster has since become a symbol of the strength and resilience of the American people.

  • The poster was created by J. Howard Miller in 1942 for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation.
  • The image depicts a strong and determined woman with a red bandana around her head, flexing her arm and saying, “We Can Do It!”
  • The woman in the poster is often referred to as “Rosie the Riveter,” a tribute to the many women who worked in factories and other essential industries during the war.

The message of the poster was clear: women are just as capable as men and can contribute to the war effort in meaningful ways. The poster was designed to inspire women to take on jobs in industries that were previously considered “men’s work,” such as welding, machinery operation, and other skilled trades. The poster had a significant impact on public opinion and led to a significant increase in the number of women working in non-traditional industries.

The “We Can Do It!” poster was just one example of the many powerful propaganda messages that were used during World War II. The following table shows some of the most influential American propaganda posters from this time period:

Poster Message
The Four Freedoms Roosevelt’s vision for a post-war world of freedom and democracy
Loose Lips Sink Ships Encouraging people to keep secrets and protect classified information
Bond with Your Best Friend Encouraging people to purchase war bonds to support the war effort
Buy War Bonds Encouraging people to purchase war bonds to support the war effort

The “We Can Do It!” poster and other propaganda messages from World War II had a lasting impact on American culture and have become enduring symbols of the strength and resilience of the American people during a time of great challenge.

Women’s Empowerment

The “We Can Do It!” poster is an iconic symbol of women’s empowerment. During World War II, women workers were urged to join the workforce and take on male-dominated jobs to support the war effort. This poster was a symbol of their hard work, determination, and strength. It has since come to represent the feminist movement, and continues to inspire women today.

  • The poster was created by J. Howard Miller for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1942 as an internal motivational tool for workers.
  • The model for the poster was Naomi Parker, who was one of many women employed in the war effort at the time.
  • Although the poster was not widely used during the war, it gained popularity in the 1980s when it began to be associated with the feminist movement and was used in various campaigns for women’s rights.

The “We Can Do It!” poster is a reminder that women are capable of achieving great things and should be treated as equals. It has become a symbol of the fight for gender equality and continues to inspire women to break through barriers and pursue their dreams.

Today, the poster is used in various forms of media, as well as in merchandise such as t-shirts, coffee mugs, and even socks. It has become an iconic image of women’s empowerment and has been re-appropriated to represent various causes and messages.

Year Event
1984 Women’s Jobs for Women’s Abilities campaign in Australia
1992 The poster was used in a U.S. Army recruitment campaign targeting women
2008 The poster was used in Barack Obama’s presidential campaign with the slogan “Yes we can!”

The “We Can Do It!” poster will always be a powerful symbol of women’s empowerment and the strength of women in the face of adversity. It continues to inspire women to this day and is a reminder that anything is possible with hard work and determination.

Industrial labor movement

The origin of the We Can Do It poster dates back to World War II, when the US government initiated a campaign to increase the participation of women in the workforce while men were away fighting in the war. The poster was created by J. Howard Miller in 1943 for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation and was displayed in their factories to boost employee morale and productivity.

  • The poster depicts a woman with a bandana on her head and rolled-up sleeves flexing her arm with the slogan “We Can Do It!” written above her.
  • Though the poster was not widely used during the war, it gained popularity in the 1980s as a symbol of feminism and women’s empowerment.
  • The woman in the poster has been interpreted as Rosie the Riveter, a fictional character that represented the millions of women who took on industrial jobs during World War II.

The poster has been associated with the industrial labor movement, which focused on improving working conditions for factory workers and increasing wages. During the early 20th century, industrial labor was characterized by long hours, low pay, and unsafe working conditions.

Workers united to form unions to demand better treatment from their employers and to push for government regulations to protect their rights. The industrial labor movement played a significant role in shaping labor laws and improving working conditions in the United States.

Industrial labor movement Impact on society
Formation of labor unions Increased bargaining power for workers and better working conditions
Promotion of workplace safety regulations Reduced workplace accidents and fatalities
Promotion of fair wages Lowered poverty rates among workers and increased consumer spending

The We Can Do It poster symbolizes women’s contribution to the industrial labor movement and the push for equal treatment and rights for workers. It is a reminder of the progress that has been made and the work that still needs to be done to create a fair and just workplace for everyone.

Gender roles during World War II

World War II created a massive shift in gender roles, as millions of men went to the front lines, leaving their jobs and responsibilities behind. Women, on the other hand, were suddenly left to shoulder the burden of supporting their families, running their households, and even contributing to the war effort. This historic shift can be seen in the iconic “We Can Do It!” poster, which has become an enduring symbol of female empowerment.

  • Entry into the workforce: With so many men gone, women were suddenly needed in the workplace. They filled jobs in a variety of industries, from manufacturing to transportation to clerical work. This was a major departure from traditional gender roles, and it challenged many long-held assumptions about what women were capable of.
  • New opportunities: For many women, the war opened up opportunities that had previously been unavailable to them. They earned higher wages than they would have in more “feminine” roles, and they gained new skills and experience that would serve them well in the postwar era.
  • The Rosie the Riveter image: The “We Can Do It!” poster was actually created as part of a broader campaign to encourage women to take on jobs that had traditionally been performed by men. The image itself features a woman dressed in blue work clothes with a polka-dotted bandana on her head, flexing her bicep confidently. This iconic image became known as “Rosie the Riveter,” and it has since become a shorthand for female empowerment.

But the Rosie image was more than just a catchy slogan. It was a call to action, encouraging women to take on new challenges and to see themselves as capable and strong. The image was widely distributed in newspapers, on posters, and in other media, and it helped to create a sense of solidarity among women who were working to support the war effort and their families.

Today, the “We Can Do It!” poster remains an enduring symbol of female empowerment and the changing roles of women in society. It serves as a reminder of the sacrifices and successes of those who came before us, and it continues to inspire new generations of women to push the boundaries of what is possible.

Pros Cons
Women gained new opportunities and skills in the workforce Many women were forced back into traditional roles after the war ended
Rosie the Riveter image became a powerful symbol of female empowerment Gender inequalities persisted even after the war
Women were able to contribute to the war effort and their families financially Some men were uncomfortable with the idea of women in the workplace

Overall, the gender roles of World War II were shaped by necessity and circumstance. Women stepped up to fill the void left by men, and they did so with skill and determination. While the end of the war brought many women back to their traditional roles, the impact of this momentous shift in gender roles cannot be overstated.

Iconic Feminist Art

Throughout history, art has been used as a tool to express political and social beliefs, and feminist art is no exception. Women have used art as a means of empowerment, challenging societal norms and gender roles. One of the most iconic feminist artworks is the “We Can Do It!” poster commonly known as “Rosie the Riveter”. The poster, created by J. Howard Miller during World War II, features a woman with a red bandana and a determined look on her face, flexing her bicep with the words “We Can Do It!” written above her.

  • The poster was originally designed to encourage women to work in factories and shipyards during World War II, as men were off fighting in the war. It was meant to boost morale and show that women were capable of doing jobs traditionally held by men.
  • After the war, the poster was largely forgotten until the 1980s when it was rediscovered and became a symbol of the feminist movement.
  • Since then, the “We Can Do It!” poster has been reimagined in a variety of ways, appearing on t-shirts, coffee mugs, and even as Halloween costumes.

The poster has become a rallying cry for feminism, representing the strength and resilience of women. Through art, women have been able to challenge stereotypes and fight for their rights. The “We Can Do It!” poster is a timeless reminder that women are capable of achieving anything they set their minds to.

Artist Artwork Year
Judy Chicago The Dinner Party 1979
Barbara Kruger Your Body Is a Battleground 1989
Frida Kahlo Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird 1940

Other notable feminist artworks include Judy Chicago’s “The Dinner Party”, a mixed media installation featuring a triangular table with place settings for 39 famous women throughout history, and Barbara Kruger’s “Your Body Is a Battleground”, a photograph overlaid with text that challenges the notion of women’s bodies as political battlegrounds.

Mass communication during World War II

Mass communication played a critical role during World War II as it was used to mobilize and inform people across the globe. Governments, organizations, and individuals relied on various forms of media to convey their messages and galvanize support for the war effort.

The Rosie the Riveter Poster

  • One of the most iconic images from World War II is the “We Can Do It!” poster featuring Rosie the Riveter.
  • The poster was created by J. Howard Miller and was commissioned by Westinghouse Electric Corporation to boost morale and convince women to join the workforce.
  • Rosie the Riveter became a symbol of the millions of women who stepped up to take on jobs that were traditionally reserved for men, and played a crucial role in the war effort.

Propaganda and Censorship

The use of propaganda and censorship was also widespread during World War II. Governments and military leaders carefully controlled the messages that were disseminated to the public through newspapers, radio, and film.

For example, in the United States, the Office of War Information was established to oversee propaganda efforts and ensure that the American people were getting the right messages about the war. Hollywood movies were also carefully scrutinized to ensure that they did not depict anything that could demoralize viewers or compromise national security.

The Power of Radio

Radio was one of the most powerful tools of mass communication during World War II. It provided an invaluable source of news and information, and millions of people relied on it for updates about the war.

Radio was also used to help boost morale and encourage support for the war effort. For example, the BBC’s “This Is London” program used music and news bulletins to keep Britain’s spirits up during the Blitz.

Newspapers and Magazines

Newspapers and magazines were also crucial sources of information during World War II. However, they faced numerous challenges, including government censorship, paper shortages, and the need to maintain readership despite the war-time disruption.

Publication Country Frequency of Publication
The Stars and Stripes USA Weekly
Daily Mail UK Daily
Pravda Soviet Union Daily

Despite these challenges, newspapers and magazines played a critical role in shaping public opinion and spreading propaganda. They were also used to rally support for the war effort and to provide updates on the fighting for people on the home front.

Westinghouse Electric Corporation

The We Can Do It poster became iconic in large part because of the association with the Westinghouse Electric Corporation. During World War II, Westinghouse operated a factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that produced materials for the war effort. At the time, the company was facing a shortage of men who had been drafted into the military, and the corporation turned to women to fill the labor gap.

Employees in the Westinghouse factory were assigned to various tasks, including using tools, building electrical equipment, and operating heavy machinery. Women who worked at the factory during this time were often referred to as “Rosie the Riveter,” a nickname that became synonymous with the image depicted in the We Can Do It poster.

  • The poster was commissioned by Westinghouse in 1942 as part of a series of motivational posters aimed at boosting worker morale.
  • The inspiration for the poster came from a photograph of a female worker at the factory, Naomi Parker Fraley, who was shown wearing a red and white polka dot bandana on her head while operating a lathe.
  • The image was originally created for an internal Westinghouse campaign and was not widely distributed during the war. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the poster gained widespread popularity as a feminist symbol of women’s empowerment.

In addition to the poster’s association with Westinghouse, its message encouraging women to work in traditionally male-dominated fields has made it a powerful symbol of feminist ideals.

Company Name Industry Location
Westinghouse Electric Corporation Manufacturing Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The We Can Do It poster has remained an enduring symbol of the power of women in the workplace. Its association with Westinghouse has helped to solidify its place in American history, while its message of female empowerment has made it a beloved icon of feminist ideals.

Legacy of J. Howard Miller (the poster’s artist)

J. Howard Miller was an American graphic artist who created the poster during World War II in 1943. Miller was working for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation’s War Production Coordinating Committee, which was created to motivate and inspire female workers to participate in the war effort by taking up jobs left by male counterparts who had gone to fight in the war.

Miller drew the illustration of a woman flexing her biceps, with a speech bubble that said “We Can Do It!” The poster became famous and was distributed throughout the country, inspiring women to work in jobs traditionally held by men. Although the poster was not originally intended for widespread distribution, it gained popularity and became an iconic image in American popular culture.

  • Miller’s background: J. Howard Miller was a Pittsburgh-based artist and graphic designer.
  • Work during World War II: Miller worked for the War Production Coordinating Committee of the Westinghouse Electric Corporation during the war. His job was to create promotional material to encourage women to take up jobs in factories, which were traditionally held by men.
  • The inspiration behind the poster: Although there is no conclusive evidence on who the model for the poster was, it is believed that the portrait was inspired by Naomi Parker Fraley, a factory worker in California.

Miller’s poster was not widely known until the 1980s when it gained popularity among feminists. The image was used to represent female empowerment and the feminist movement of the 1980s, and it continues to be used in contemporary feminist campaigns.

Key facts about J. Howard Miller
Born in Indiana in 1918
Died in 2004
Worked as a graphic artist and designer throughout his career
Created the “We Can Do It!” poster during World War II

The “We Can Do It!” poster remains an iconic image of female empowerment and has inspired countless movements and campaigns over the years.

Pop culture adaptations and parodies of the poster

The We Can Do It poster, also known as Rosie the Riveter, has been widely recognized in pop culture and has been used as the inspiration for various adaptations and parodies. Here are some notable examples:

  • Music Album Covers: The band Weezer used the poster as the inspiration for their album cover for “Hurley” in 2010.
  • Fashion: The image has been used in fashion, including the popular clothing line Wildfang which used the image to create feminist clothing.
  • TV Shows and Movies: Rosie the Riveter has been portrayed in various TV shows and movies, such as the character Peggy Carter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which features a character inspired by the poster in one of its episodes.

Parodies of the Poster

The poster has also been parodied in many ways as a form of humor or satire, here are a few examples:

  • Star Wars: Two characters from Star Wars, Princess Leia and Chewbacca, each took on the pose and were featured in separate parody images.
  • Memes: Rosie the Riveter has been the inspiration for many memes, including parodies that reference popular films or TV shows.
  • Corporate Ads: The image has been used in advertising campaigns like the 2013 McDonald’s ad that used Rosie the Riveter to promote chicken sandwich options.


The We Can Do It poster remains an iconic symbol not only of feminism and women’s empowerment but also of creativity and humor. Its adaptability has allowed it to remain relevant in pop culture today and will likely continue to inspire and entertain generations to come.

Ferriss, T. (2012). The 4-hour chef: The simple path to cooking like a pro, learning anything, and living the good life. New York: New Harvest.
“Wildfang on selling a feminist brand to a divided nation amid Trump’s ascent.” Glossy. 2017. Retrieved from https://www.glossy.co/fashion/wildfang-on-selling-a-feminist-brand-to-a-divided-nation-amid-trumps-ascent.

Note: All images used are for the illustrative purpose only.

Frequently Asked Questions About What Does the We Can Do It Poster Symbolize

1. What is the We Can Do It poster?

The We Can Do It poster, also known as Rosie the Riveter poster, is an American propaganda poster created during World War II to encourage women to take part in the workforce while men were fighting the war.

2. Who is Rosie the Riveter?

Rosie the Riveter is a cultural icon that represents women during the war, particularly those who worked in factories and shipyards, producing war supplies and equipment.

3. What does the pose in the poster mean?

The pose in the poster is known as the “We Can Do It” pose, which represents determination, strength, and perseverance. It was meant to inspire women to work hard and believe in themselves during the war.

4. Why is the poster so iconic?

The poster became an iconic symbol of feminism, empowerment, and women’s rights. It has been widely used in various media today, from T-shirts, memes, and political campaigns.

5. Was Rosie a real person?

No, Rosie the Riveter was not a real person, but a fictional character created for propaganda purposes during World War II.

6. Who created the poster?

The poster was created by J. Howard Miller for the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in 1942, as part of their wartime effort to recruit female workers.

7. What is the legacy of the poster today?

The poster continues to be a powerful symbol of women’s strength, determination, and courage. It has become an integral part of popular culture, and its message remains relevant and inspiring to this day.

Closing thoughts – Thanks for Taking the Time to Learn More!

Thank you for taking the time to read about the We Can Do It poster and its significance. This iconic poster represents the hard-working women who played a crucial role in the war effort, and the message it sends still resonates with many people today. We hope this article has been informative and enjoyable. please visit us again soon for more exciting stories and fun facts!