c. 1940s: ‘Women are teachable”

“Booklet that was intended to assist male bosses in supervising their new female employees at RCA plants.”

National Archives, Southeast Region

13 Responses

  1. eydie

    yes, it’s sexist in that it targeted toward women only, but really, this is excellent advice for both sexes.

    Reply
  2. Cranios

    I think one has to keep in mind that: a) most women at that time were unused to working outside the home and especially in factories, b) as any manager will tell you, managing women is different than managing men (even if it isn’t PC to say it).
    Good advice for the most part.

    Reply
    • Alex

      Even though I’m a man, this manager disagrees. Actually, other managers who believe such a thing tend to manipulate their employees into proving it.

      Reply
  3. Rebecca

    I was all ready to be offended, but I agree that this is good advice for anyone in any work situation.

    Reply
  4. TaDaa

    “Assign her to a shift in accordance with health, home obligations and transportation arrangements.”

    Ahead of it’s time.

    Reply
  5. salian

    Like Rebecca, I was expecting to be offended, but except for a patronising tinge of “speak loud and slowy so they understand”, the advice is in line with (what should be)the newstarter process for any modern office/factory. Sadly few organisations of the time were so forward thinking, particularly in regards to women.

    TaDaa is right in noting that the advice about considering health and home obligations etc was ahead of it’s time. I can remember my mum telling me about a workmate (back in the mid 40s) who suffered severe period pains. Everyone knew she was in agony for at least 2 days a month but she struggled into the office because she was not allowed to take sick leave for ‘womens stuff’. She collapsed one day with the pain and had to be taken to hospital, and the management fired her.

    You’ll be happy to know my mum and all her co-workers walked off the job in protest, and the woman did get her job back.

    Reply
  6. Ken

    As a man, I’d like to say:

    “See that her workplace is comfortable, safe, and convenient.”

    I’d like some of that, please.

    “Avoid horseplay or kidding; she may resent it.”

    Yep, and knock off the racist and sexist jokes as well. Most men I know despise the frat-boy mentality.

    “Inform her fully of health and safety rules.”

    In fact, post those rules in the break room or some other gathering place, as the law mandates (at least it does here).

    It’s a bit dated in attitude, but this little pamphlet has some solid advice for managers. Too bad that most of these hints are still widely disregarded for ALL employees.

    Reply
  7. Mike Barnett

    If you read between the lines, this pamphlet was published to help idiot male supervisors come to terms with women entering the workplace. By assuaging their egos with hints of superiority, even the most ignorant male supervisor was likely to be a bit more kind to his female charges.

    Also, remember that this was WWII… things were done hastily as women replaced men who went off to war. Publishing this was likely done in a hurry. Not all decisions were exactly brilliant… but I also wouldn’t be surprised if women WROTE it, either… sort of a preemptive jab in the ribs.

    Reply
  8. P'Gell

    As someone else also saw, “Assign her to a shift in accordance with health, home obligations and transportation arrangements.”

    It would be great if more employers today took these into consideration. As women, we bear most of the child rearing, kid lugging, after school activities, food prep etc. It would be nice if someone cared in most jobs.

    I’m lucky enough to work for a small business, owned by an open minded women who doesn’t see other women as threats and who cares that we have home lives, children and partners who need us, too. But, most other women in the workplace today are so lucky.

    Reply

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