Previous Post Next Post


Brought to you by

‘Women are Teachable’: 8 Vintage Photos Show Women Learning to do Useful Tasks (for Men)

By Meredith Carroll |

Women are teachable

Just like dogs

Labor Day, indeed.

It’s not news that women have historically been dominant when it comes to household work, while playing second-fiddle in the office and boardroom. But what’s interesting is looking back on how it was approached, to an extent, through the lens of historic photos.

One set of photos below, from the 1940s, shows a booklet that was intended to assist male bosses in supervising their new female employees at RCA plants. What’s unfortunate is that while the advice provided was surprisingly thorough, helpful and useful — and if the same guidelines were followed today, workers would be so lucky — it’s directed just at women, which makes is reek of shameful sexism.

The second set of photos, from the 1920s, shows women demonstrating “correct postures for various forms of housework,” as seen in a spread for Delineator magazine. While the form might be spot-on, it’s too bad there weren’t some men demonstrating it, too.

Take a look at how women learned to be their best — for the sake of men:

nggallery id=’124275′

How May We Ladies Serve You, Gentlemen?

When you supervise a woman

- Make clear her part in the process or product in 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.

All images used with permission from

More from Meredith on Strollerderby:

Read (even) more from Meredith at Babble’s Baby’s First Year, follow her on Twitter, and read her weekly syndicated newspaper column at


10 things to thank feminists for (and 10 that still need work)
25 vintage ads that scream SEXISM
11 ridiculous tips for undressing in front of your lover (circa 1937)
5 compliments every woman wants to hear
10 things a mother-in-law should never say to a daughter-in-law

More on Babble

About Meredith Carroll


Meredith Carroll

Meredith C. Carroll is an award-winning columnist and writer based in Aspen, Colorado. She can be found regularly on the Op-Ed page of The Denver Post. From 2005-2012 her other column, "Meredith Pro Tem" ran in several newspapers, as well as occasionally on The Huffington Post since 2009. Read more about her (or don’t, whatever) at her website. Read bio and latest posts → Read Meredith's latest posts →

« Go back to Kid

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Comments, together with personal information accompanying them, may be used on and other Babble media platforms. Learn More.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

Previous Post Next Post

The Daily Babble