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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Women are teachable": 1940's booklet to “assist male bosses in supervising their new female employees"

The subject has always interested me, because my mom was one of them - the women who went to work during World War II while the men were off fighting, then gave up their jobs and paychecks once those men came back.

You've come a long way, baby. From the National Archives:
By 1944, over half of American adult women were employed outside the home, making invaluable contributions to the war effort. As women went about their duties, supervisors often worried about effectively assimilating them into the workforce. This publication from the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) awkwardly attempted to assist supervisors with managing their new female employees.

When you supervise a woman…
Make clear her part in the process or product on which she works.
Allow for her lack of familiarity with machine processes.
See that her working set-up is comfortable, safe and convenient.
Start her right by kindly and careful supervision.
Avoid horseplay or “kidding”; she may resent it.
Suggest rather than reprimand.
When she does a good job, tell her so.
Listen to and aid her in her work problems. 
When you put a woman to work…
Have a job breakdown for her job.
Consider her education, work experience and temperament in assigning her to that job.
Have the necessary equipment, tools and supplies ready for her.
Try out her capacity for and familiarity with the work.
Assign her to a shift in accordance with health, home obligations and transportation arrangements.
Place her in a group of workers with similar backgrounds and interests.
Inform her fully on health and safety rules, company policies, company objectives.
Be sure she knows the location of rest-rooms, lunch facilities, dispensaries.
Don’t change her shift too often and never without notice.

Whenever you employ a woman...
Limit her hours to 8 a day, and 48 a week, if possible.
Arrange brief rest periods in the middle of each shift. 
Try to make nourishing foods available during lunch periods.
Try to provide a clean place to eat lunch, away from her workplace.
Make cool and pure drinking water accessible.
See that the toilet and restrooms are clean and adequate.
Watch work hazards - moving machinery; dust and fumes; improper lifting; careless housekeeping.
Provide properly adjusted work seats; good ventilation and lighting.
Recommend proper clothing for each job; safe, comfortable shoes; try to provide lockers and a place to change work clothes.
Relieve a monotonous job with rest periods. If possible, use music during fatigue periods.

Finally–call on a trained woman counselor in your personnel department…
To find out what women workers think and want.
To discover personal causes of poor work, absenteeism, turnover.
To assist women workers in solving personal difficulties.
To interpret women’s attitudes and actions.
To assist in adjusting women to their jobs.

The same group of documents in the Archives also has a booklet called ""Womanpower" Campaign". See the whole thing there:


  1. The funny thing is that the morons who run the world today think this is funny because they "know" that women and men are identical.

  2. I don't see why the National Archives thinks this is an "awkward attempt." It seems pretty common-sense to me.

  3. Interesting, by implication, the male workers had to put up with--or it as at least not a given that they would not have:

    - Uncomfortable, unsafe, and inconvenient work spaces.
    - Unkind, careless supervision.
    - Horseplay.
    - Reprimands.
    - No encouragement.
    - No help with work problems.
    - Possibly no readily available tools, supplies, and equipment.
    - Shiftwork regardless of impact on health; constantly changing shifts with little or no notice.
    - 8+ hour work days and 48+ hour work weeks.
    - Dirty or no separate lunch area.
    - No clean, cool drinking water.
    - Dirty toilet and restrooms.
    - No breaks or rest periods during shifts.
    - Improperly adjusted seating; poor lighting and ventilation.
    - No lockers.
    - Hazardous work areas.

    1. Yeah, I noticed that too. When you employ a woman, you have to treat her like a human being!