During World War II, with men being sent to all corners of the globe to fight, America was faced with a labor shortage. All around the country, women were called upon to step in to jobs that were traditionally viewed as only suitable for men.
It was no different at the Powder Works.
Before the war, women did work at the plant, albeit in mostly administrative positions. They also worked in the shellhouse, where dynamite was packed. During the war, however, they took on more dangerous jobs in the powder line, acid department, and power house.
There was naturally resentment by the status quo when women first moved in to these positions. But as they proved themselves worthy, that resentment gradually faded away. And, as much as we may like to think we've progressed as a society, and in most ways we have, women were paid the same wages as men for the same jobs. How often can that be said these days?
That doesn't mean discrimination didn't exist, however. Women did not hold management positions, nor were they allowed into the Men's-only Clubhouse until the 1970's.
So the next time you're at the Rosie the Riveter memorial in Richmond learning about the contributions women made to the war effort at the shipyards, take a moment to remember the women of the Powder Works and how they helped propel America to victory.