How some things have changed

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wwii_woman_worker.jpgI was recently looking up information about women and mathematics. In 2004, for example, women earned almost half the bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics and statistics, and 29% of the doctorates (from the Association of Women in Mathematics, summarizing the most recent statistics from the U.S. National Science Foundation). Another source of statistics is in the Annual Survey of the Mathematical Sciences, published in three parts each year. There are a number of ways to interpret this data, some positive and some negative.

But I am reminded of just how far women have come in the past 65 years when I read the “Eleven Tips on Getting More Efficiency out of Women Employes” from the July 1943 issue of Mass Transportation Magazine (p 244, continued on p. 257). You can find the entire text, including scans of the original article, on Snopes, but here are a few of the gems:

  • 1. If you can get them, pick young married women. They have these advantages, according to the western companies: they usually have more of a sense of responsibility than do their unmarried sisters; they’re less likely to be flirtatious; as a rule, they need the work, or they would not be doing it — maybe a sick husband or one who’s in the army; they still have the pep and interest to work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.
  • 4. Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination — one covering female conditions. This step not only protects the property against the possibilities of lawsuit, but reveals whether the employe-to-be has any female weaknesses which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job. Transit companies that follow this rule report a surprising number of women turned down for nervous disorders.
  • 6. Give the female employe in garage or office a definite day-long schedule of duties so that she’ll keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Numerous properties say that women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them but that they lack initiative in finding work themselves.

And, yes, there are eight more.

2 Responses to “How some things have changed”

  1. shae Says:

    i really like this article. it has inspired me to do more research about this topic. its great! just love it

    – shae

  2. Ξ Says:

    What I find intriguing is that, when this was published, this was viewed as all OK. (I remember watching some old TV, maybe Bewitched or Alfred Hitchcock, where someone’s boss discussed hiring men versus women and who needed the work more. All done in seriousness.

    (Incidentally, sorry that it took a while to approve the comment. We have it set up that way to avoid spam etc. but our department had meetings all day so it was a rare day away from the computer!)

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