Modern-Day Rosies: Deanne Fitzmaurice Re-Envisions the Iconic Symbol of Women Empowerment

Some ladies have all the luck drive. Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, filmmaker, and co-founder of Think Tank Bags, Deanne Fitzmaurice, is known for pushing the boundaries of what is typically expected of photojournalists.

One of her recent projects, ‘Women Can Build‘, demonstrates the impact and stories that she can convey in a single image. It’s goal is to help challenge stereotypes and highlight role models for millions of women across the country.

For International Women’s Day we join Deanne in sharing the stories of the extraordinary women who are building our 21st century transportation infrastructure in industries traditionally dominated by men.

Modern Day Rosies

Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Lilla Wallace is a cleaning specialist at a railcar refurbishment facility in Los Angeles, CA. “I work inside the garage, the Service and Inspection area called S&I. We do two cars a day — the whole thing! It’s detailing, elbow grease, hard cleaning, hard work, not soft cleaning.” Lilla sees herself as one day being a mechanic, drawn to the physicality of the work. “You can work hard and still retain your femininity.” Read more of her story here.

Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Ruby Diaz a quality control technician at the Kinkisharyo railcar factory in Palmdale, CA., recently promoted after establishing herself as an electrical worker. She worked with thick, heavy copper wires, oftentimes having to withstand vibrations from the moving trains. “I was a little intimidated with so many male coworkers,” Ruby says.  “But I thought, why not take the challenge. It’s hard for women, they feel they don’t have enough strength, or power, or dedication. It is a tough and heavy job. But women can work just as hard as anybody. Women shouldn’t be intimidated.” Read more of her story here.

As a photojournalist, how much do we engage with our subject? Join Deann Fitzmaurice for her free online discussion answering the question: Can We Be Objective Observers?

Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Ami Rasmussen is an interior assembly foreman at the Kinkisharyo railcar factory in Palmdale, CA and mother of two. It wasn’t until her daughters were older that she was able to fulfill a lifelong dream to join the U.S. army serving as a light vehicle mechanic. Post-service and with established experience, she now works on the Interior 2 team, with seven other men. “We probably touch the trains more than anyone else,” Ami says. “There is no typical day, here. We install seats, the rear locker, grab bars, pretty much anything you grab onto inside the train. We’ll build the actual locker, and others will install the electrical components. The tools I use vary, from screwdrivers to torque wrenches, to drills, to rivet guns.” Ami admits that there are pros and cons to working with a majority male workforce but being in charge of 78 men in the military, she thought to herself ‘I got this.’ Read more of her story here.

Photo by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Elisangela “Lisa” Oliveira is a bridge painter for the New York City Department of Transportation and was the very first woman to pass the Civil Service Exam for Bridge Painters at the NYC DOT. “It’s a physically demanding exam,” said Lisa. “I had to climb the Williamsburg Bridge and demonstrate that I knew what I was doing with the safety procedures to pass!” She started as an apprentice with the bridge painter’s union and advanced to a journeywoman position, followed by a forewoman position. Lisa said she experienced a lot of discrimination in the beginning of her career but Lisa pushed back, telling them, “Put me to work, if you don’t like me, you don’t like me.” Read more of her story here.

Deanne Fitzmaurice is a Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist and filmmaker whose work is known for using emotional and physical layers to expose human connection. Join CreativeLive as Deanne discusses her 13 year project about an injured Iraqi boy, and the questions she’s wrestled with on her photographic journey. 

As a photojournalist, how much do we engage with our subject? Join Deann Fitzmaurice for her free online discussion.

Kym Cortigiano