Do you know what a “Rosie Dollar” is? It is one of many thousands of bills handled by Americans every day, signed by Rosa Gumataotao Rios.
She has signed millions of United States dollar bills and is perhaps one of the most relevant women in the U.S., although she goes unnoticed for the most part.
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Gumataotao is a Californian of Mexican origin who took office as Treasurer of the United States in 2009.
An interesting fact is that women have held that position without interruption since 1949. After all, the ladies are the ones who manage home economics, right? In fact, six of the last ten were Latinas.
Women have made history in the U.S. Treasury Department since Georgia Neese Clark served as the first of a long list of Treasurers of the United States.
Clark accomplished this after World War II, when the percentage of women in the labor force in the United States increased considerably.
Her position also has a historical weight: The Office of the Treasurer was created in 1775, even before the United States was named as such on Sept. 9, 1776.
“It was very brave and probably very symbolic that President Harry Truman made that designation,” Rios said in a statement for BBC News.
President Truman’s gesture became a tradition, and since then, every President has chosen a woman as Secretary of the Treasury.
Gumataotao Rios’ role
The Treasurer oversees directly the bureau of engraving and printing and Fort Knox.
In addition, she is a key liaison with the Federal Reserve, which is the central banking system of the country.
Her job does not only involve signing dollar bills, but overseeing the nearly 4,000 employees that print banknotes and coins in the country. She also custodies the Fort Knox gold reserves.
Rios is aware of this historical symbolism and is proud of her position.
“My signature is all over the world,” she says. “It is a professional pride, but also a personal one for my family.”
Signatures still appear on bills even when the treasurer has stepped down from her position, while the bill is still in progress.
The first printed bills that appeared in 2009 with her signature was the 20 dollar bill.
From that moment, Rios has saved copies of each denomination with her printed name, she calls them “Rosie Dollars” and describes her collection as a “treasure.”
More women in charge
Gumataotao Ríos is not alone in the world of the National Treasure. Janet Yellen became the first woman to head the Federal Reserve, while Sylvia Matthews-Burwell is in charge of the budget at the White House.
“Women are playing a very significant role in the economic dialogue not only at the domestic level, but also globally,” says Rios.
It is not surprising, as women are naturals when it comes to managing the household budget.
It is even less surprising that so many Latinas, so adept at stretching the dollar at home, have held this position.
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