'Women are Teachable': 8 Vintage Photos Show Women Learning to do Useful Tasks (for Men)Meredith Carroll
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:
When you supervise a woman 1 of 8- 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.
When you put a woman to work 2 of 8- Have a job breakdown for her.
- 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.
Finally — call on a trained counselor in your personnel department 3 of 8- To find out what women workers think and want.
- To discover personal courses of poor work, absenteeism, turnover.
- To assist woman workers in solving personal difficulties.
- To interpret women's attitudes and actions.
- To assist in adjusting women to their jobs.
The Correct Posture for Housework — Straightening Up 4 of 8It picks up the boot off the floor while keeping its back perfectly straight.
The Correct Posture for Housework — Fixing supper 5 of 8It sits while peeling the potatoes so it doesn't get too tired to prepare the rest of the day's rations.
The Correct Posture for Housework — Scrubbing dishes 6 of 8It rids the dishes of the crumbs left behind to make way for the new meal it'll prepare in just a few hours.
The Correct Posture for Housework — Sweeping 7 of 8It sweeps the floor to rid the home of the dirt from the bad people, places and things that get are just on the other side of the front door.
The Correct Posture for Housework — Washing windows 8 of 8It scrubs the windows carefully while ensuring not to look outside so it doesn't know what goes on in the wide world beyond the glass pane.
All images used with permission from Retronaut.co