Managing Rosie the Riveter

Mark forwarded this from the 0xdeadbeef mailing list. It’s exerpted from the July 1943 issue Transportation Magazine, and is intended as a guide for male supervisors adapting to the influx of women workers during World War II.

Eleven Tips on Getting More Efficiency Out of Women Employees
There is no longer any question whether transit companies should hire women for
jobs formerly held by men. The draft and manpower shortage has settled
that point. The important things now are to select the most efficient
women available and how to use them to the best advantage. Here are
eleven helpful tips on the subject:

1. Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of
responsibility than their unmarried sisters. They are less likely to be
flirtatious. They need the work, or they would not 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, 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 is always well to impress upon older
women, the importance of friendliness and courtesy.

3. General experience indicates that “husky” girls – those who are just a
little on the heavy side – are more even tempered and efficient that their
underweight sisters.

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 will keep busy without bothering the management for instructions
every few minutes. 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.

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 cannot 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 will
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 cannot be stressed too much in keeping
women happy.

I would have written this off as Internet joke invention until I read about Professor James Tooley’s belief that guides like this led to what he calls the modern Bridget Jones Syndrome. Finally, an explanation for my Chardonnay and Kit Kat consumption.