January 13, 2018

“Women Are Teachable”: This 1940s Booklet to Assist Male Bosses in Supervising Their New Female Employees

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 II.

By 1944, over half of American adult women were employed outside the home, making invaluable contributions to the war effort. As women went about their duties, supervisors often worried about effectively assimilating them into the workforce. This publication from the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) awkwardly attempted to assist supervisors with managing their new female employees.

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 with the text below (please click on the images to view them larger):

WOMEN ARE TEACHABLE


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.

WOMEN ARE PATIENT


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.

WOMEN ARE CAREFUL


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.

WOMEN ARE COOPERATIVE


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.

(Citation: Records of the War Manpower Commission, via National Archives at Atlanta and The Federalist Papers)




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