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During World War II when men left for war, American women filled a labor shortage by entering into jobs traditionally held by men. The iconic image of Rosie the Riveter was born — a strong, capable woman able to swing a hammer just like a man. Rosie the Riveter and the countless women who came after her are a critical reminder that women are capable of anything they set their minds to.

While significant progress has been made in the fight for gender equity, we still have a long way to go. Although women serve as the primary or co-breadwinner in half of American families, they represent the majority of full-time workers earning poverty wages. For instance, one in four Hispanic women and nearly one in five Black women work full-time and earn less than $20,000 per year, which falls well below the federal poverty line for a family of four.

Advancing gender and economic justice requires a long-term commitment to public policies and social programs that uplift women and remove barriers to opportunity.

The Women Can Build exhibit and photo series embodies this spirit and aims to empower women by elevating their integral role in the U.S. economy.

The Women Can Build project uplifts women’s leadership and contributions to the transportation industry and highlights the hardworking women who build America’s buses, trains, roads, and bridges. Evoking the spirit of Rosie the Riveter in a modern context, the project aims to bring to the forefront women who CAN build — America’s transportation systems and anything they set their minds to — with hard work, determination, strength, and commitment.

Photography by Deanne Fitzmaurice
Music: Working Woman
Performed by: Ruthie Foster
Courtesy of Blue Corn Music
Written by Grace Pettis
Publisher: Soon Bloomed Songs (ASCAP)

Associated Press Posts