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Women & Work

Then and Now - How Far Have We Come?


How far have women come in the workplace? We're making progress, but, it has taken years to even get close to that glass ceiling. I thought it would be interesting to take a look back in time to how far we have - and haven't - come.


From "Women & the Workplace" - what life was like for working women:

  • During the American Revolution, some twenty thousand women accompanied American troops to war, serving as cooks, nurses, laundresses, guides, seamstresses, water porters, and ammunition loaders.

  • In 1848, Charlotte Woodward campaigned to change laws that gave husbands the right to pocket their wives' earnings.

  • By 1870, six out of ten working women were domestic servants. In New York City at mid-century, 25 percent of all employed Irish women and half of all African-American women worked as servants.

  • Ninety percent of working women fit into 11 of 451 job types listed on the 1940 census. More than ninety percent of all nurses, clerical workers, and domestic servants were women.

  • A Women's Bureau study of 1944 reported that eighty percent of women who worked during World War II wished to continue at their jobs.

The 1943 Guide To Hiring Women has quite a bit of advice for the men who were doing the hiring.

  • General experience indicates that "husky" girls are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.

  • A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick, and wash her hands.

  • 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.

  • Numerous properties say that women make excellent workers when they have their jobs cut out for them, but that they lack initiative in finding work themselves.

Next, read about how the experience of women in the workplace today.
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