how to handle a woman ’40s style

Read it and weep. Or laugh. I would love to have any reader reactions to this piece that is an excerpt from the July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine written for male supervisors as a guide to hiring for the work force during World War II, the “great” war. It had to have been a man who coined that phrase. I can’t imagine any woman referring to a war of any kind as “great.”

As you know, during that period in history, the draft and manpower shortage was taking all the men away from the farms and factories, leaving women behind to do what they’ve always done in times of need. To take over and keep things going. After the war, however, it was harder to keep the women down–having had that taste of freedom as they had, so it was the beginning of the women’s movement.

I couldn’t resist sharing this little gem sent me by a friend in Las Vegas in case it didn’t make the rounds your way yet. Thank goodness things aren’t quite this bad anymore–I think, I hope–but as far as attitudes go, things could still be better.

Eleven Tips on Getting More Efficiency Out of Women

  1. Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, they’re less likely to be flirtatious, they need the work or they wouldn’t be doing it, they still have the pep and interest to work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.
  2. When you have to use older women [emphasis mine], try to get ones who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives. Older women who have never contacted the public have a hard time adapting themselves and are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy. It’s always well to impress upon older women the importance of friendliness and courtesy. [Now that explains a lot for me!]
  3. General experience indicates that “husky” girls–those who are just a little on the heavy side–are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters. [Keep ’em fat and happy!]
  4. Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination–one covering female conditions. This step not only protects the property against the possibilities of lawsuit, but reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.
  5. Stress at the outset the importance of time, the fact that a minute or two lost here and there makes serious inroads on schedules. Until this point is gotten across, service is likely to be slowed up.
  6. Give the female employee a definite day-long schedule of duties so that they’ll keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Numerous properties say woman make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but that they lack initiative in finding work themselves.
  7. Whenever possible, let the inside employee change from one job to another at some time during the day. Women are inclined to be less nervous and happier with change.
  8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. You have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.
  9. Be tactful when issuing instructions or in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive; they can’t shrug off harsh words the way men do. Never ridicule a woman–it breaks her spirit and cuts off her efficiency.
  10. Be reasonably considerate about using strong language around women. Even though a girl’s husband or father may swear vociferously, she’ll grow to dislike a place of business where she hears too much of this.
  11. Get enough size variety in operator’s uniforms so that each girl can have a proper fit. This point can’t be stressed too much in keeping women happy.
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13 thoughts on “how to handle a woman ’40s style

  1. I think the same man wrote the rules for how to get women out of the workplace after the war; in particular how to keep them out. Unfortunately the women’s movement didn’t really get going until the 60’s. By then I was on the verge of madness. I just couldn’t fall in love with my washing machine or have an orgasm while I was running the vacuum cleaner. My brain kept trying to function in spite of all the crap.

  2. I just got this same thing in my email from a friend of mine. Is it really real? Good lord!

    Mind you, from now on out, I’m not overweight, I’m husky!

  3. Oh, My…..I’d forgotten that sort of thinking. Yes, I am sitting here shaking my head at this. My mother, #1 out of the University of Michigan School of Architectural Engineering couldn’t get a job as an engineer and had to work as a draftsman. I remember in the 60’s being unable to get a credit card in my own name. I’m so glad that thinking is gone now.

    • My uncle’s reasoning for sending his daughter to college was so she could find a husband who could give her a better living than one without an education could. My father, on the other hand, didn’t want his kids–none of ’em, my sister and me or two brothers–“brainwashed.”

    • Do you really giggle? I think that would make a funny post, if you can record a giggle and put it up via a podcast. I’m too cheap to pay extra to have that ability, so you’ll just have to take my word that my laugh is not a cute little giggle! 😮

  4. What a great map you have. Look at all those readers.

    Yes, I am so enjoying rereading the Harry Potters. I know they get more adult as we go along, and as I get to feeling better that should suit me. Nope, that’s me in the window….I’m sorry. That’s a cynical moux at the bottom. 🙂

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