Women professionals take time out to mentor Rosie’s Girls campers


By Camilo Vilaseca

Channeling the spirit of Rosie the Riveter on Wednesday, middle-school age girls taking part in the Rosie’s Girls camp met with female firefighters, engineers, toolmakers, pipe experts and other members of professions once thought to be only for men.

The Career Day event held at Kennedy High was part of the award-winning, six-week camp held by The Rosie the Riveter Trust at the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. Rosie’s Girls empowers middle-school age girls from low income families to build skills and confidence in the trades and non-traditional activities, including learning welding and carpentry.

The young girls represent the full spirit of Rosie the Riveter, the iconic character who appeared on famous WWII-era recruitment posters and represented women working industrial jobs to support the war effort.

Rosies not only helped their nation win WWII, they helped develop the modern career woman. And this week, some of those career women took time out of their day to impart their wisdom. This year, five former campers returned as mentors to exhibit what they’ve been able to accomplish since learning and applying their new skills.

Now in its eighth year, Rosie’s Girls serves to introduce students to both the trades and STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and math).  As part of the program, campers have also visited local historical sites and are looking forward to the end-of-camp trip to Yosemite.

Marsha Mather-Thrift, executive director of Rosie the Riveter Trust, beams at what Rosie’s Girls has accomplished, particularly in terms of instilling confidence in young people. At first, many of the girls were unsure about using the power tools.

“The students said ‘before I didn’t think I could do this, but now I feel like I can do anything,’” Mather-Thrift said.

The only possible downside? Now, many of the girls are being asked by their friends to fix things.

One day, they’ll get paid for such requests.