The Rosie the Riveter song, penned by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb, first hit airwaves early in 1943. Rosie, however, had been hard at work on the assembly lines, at the gas pumps and many other jobs in male-dominated fields since at least 1942.

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She built munitions, planes, tanks and ships by the score. In short, she made sure the boys on the front lines weren’t caught short of vital warfighting equipment.

Enticed by necessity—most of the able-bodied men had either enlisted or were drafted—and propaganda with messages like, “Can you use an electric mixer? If so, you can learn to operate a drill,” America’s women stepped up in droves. Some sources put the number of women in the workplace during World War II at 19 million. If you ask the American Rosie the Riveter Association, the count is much higher.

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