Title: “Do the Job He Left Behind”

Creator: R.G. Harris

Date: 1943

Format: War Poster

Link: http://digital.hagley.org/cdm/ref/collection/p15017coll3/id/1


            During World War II, while the men were fighting oversees, it was the responsibility of women to fulfill their patriotic duties by working in the factories to manufacture goods for the war. The United States Government created the poster in an attempt to employ as many females as possible to help support the needs of the U.S. Military.

            In this poster, the woman’s focus and professionalism immediately stands out. Although, prior to this time period, the majority of women would have never known how to handle such equipment, nor would many of them have thought they would possess the skill to perform such work, the woman’s appearance and attitude is used to help convince other women that they’re more than capable of doing what was considered a “man’s job.” In another attempt to have women apply, the poster illustrates an American flag in the background, giving women a patriotic feeling that they’re just as important to their country as the men who are fighting the war. Although, present day, we are accustomed to seeing women work in every possible field, this poster, along with the “We Can Do It” poster, was the first to make women believe that they were of equal importance as the men in the workplace.


4 thoughts on “”

  1. This poster, created by the US government during World War 2 to inspire women to join the workforce, is an example of domestic war propaganda that served to encourage citizens to assist and support the war effort. Here, the target audience is specifically women. The poster reads, “Do the job he left behind,”–the “he” seems to be referring to a spouse who is overseas fighting or elsewhere working toward the war effort. The rhetoric, color scheme, and placement of the American flag as the backdrop all work to create a sense of patriotism and loyalty to country (as the author of the post mentioned). The poster, when analyzed, reveals the values of the nation that produced it: nationalism, patriotism, and gender roles. I think it’s interesting to note that while the poster appears to be supporting gender equality by encouraging women to do tasks that men would typically do, the woman in the photo is somewhat masculinized in order to “look the part” (her hair is tucked away, etc).

  2. I agree, this photo is one that speaks to women empowerment and it is significant that the message encourages women in the 1940s to step into what was a man’s role in society. With WWII affecting America’s workforce with many male workers serving in the military women were needed to keep businesses alive – this shows a great deal of patriotism and the fact that America strives to give both men and women and equal place in society. However, decades later from when this poster was created, women began to be subjugated yet again and stereotyped as weaker than men, it is interesting to see how the mindset that “women can fill the shoes of men” continues to come and go throughout American past history.

  3. I understand the point you are making here. This poster was definitely created to influence woman and make them feel empowered. Similar tactics have been used in later years. Gender equality was and still is an issue. There was a comment said, however, that I disagree with. I do not believe that this new position that women began to fill showed “patriotism” on America’s part at all. Society was forced to employ the women. I feel that if it were societally acceptable they would have employed anybody but. With this being said, I am not doubting that it was not a push in the right direction for men and women to have an equal place in society. I just believe that it was not purposefully done for that reason and America should not be praised as doing such.[

  4. I also think that the posters could have been made to empower women and encourage them to support their families and the economy while the majority of the men were fighting. I also find it interesting that the clothing that the woman is wearing in the poster represents the color of the American flag which the artist could have done to make women feel patriotic and proud.

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