In a re-discovered 1940s guide for how male bosses should treat female employees, men were amusingly told that “women are teachable.” The guide shows just how much the work place has changed since World War Two.
With the modern jet age still just over ten years into the future and with many of America’s men sent off into the second world war, the burgeoning number of women coming into the work force in the mid 1940s was apparently causing some consternation among the older men then in positions of leadership in companies all across the nation. And so, this guide was put out by the Radio Corporation of America somewhat awkwardly informing bosses on how to deal with that animal never before seen, that pesky women worker.
As the National Archives notes, by 1944 over half of America’s adult women were employed outside the home, some involved in the war effort while others filled positions many citizen soldiers left behind when they went off to fight the Nazis and Tojo.
But many of America’s supervisors had never had to deal with women in the workplace and many felt women not only belonged in the home, but were simply unable to learn how to work in a man’s world. So, RCA thought this guide would be helpful in order to keep America on its war footing.
The implications in the text are somewhat amusing in that it seems to have been assumed that men were tougher of spirit, could take criticism better, didn’t take things personally, and perhaps were easier to keep working in unclean and unsafe working conditions.
After all, many of these lines of advice seem like a good way to treat any employee; as opposed to just women!
Following the image of each page of the booklet we provide the text below:
- 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.
H/T: VA Viper Blog.