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Blast from the Past: Hercules' own "Rosies"

Kaiser wasn't the only place where women made a difference.

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John Loudermilk June 26, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Great story! My mother was a welder at the Kaiser Shipyard during WW2. I enjoy learning more about war effort from that era and never considered the role our town had in that effort.
Dean Brightman July 07, 2011 at 04:51 AM
Interesting, isn't it? As is the fact your mother played a direct part in it. You know, I have to confess I still haven't visited the Rosie the Riveter memorial yet. I really need to do that. It's amazing to think how vital our area was in the fight.

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