Vintage Sexism: 1943 Guide to Hiring Women


We covered this a couple of years ago, but a reader sent it in and it’s just too good not to bring to light, especially when we have the original.
This gem is from the July 1943 issue of Transportation Magazine, written for male supervisors of women during World War II. These were “helpful tips” on supervising women at work (emphasis mine):

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, 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.
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.
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.

Is it just me or does this sound like an episode of the Crocodile Hunter? Except in this case they’re, you know, not animals. Sigh.
The rest of this madness is after the jump, my fave being, “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.” Just give me a tube of lipstick and I’ll be ready to take on the world!


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 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 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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52 Comments

  1. féministe_et_fière
    Posted September 29, 2009 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    This is fantastic! And the timing couldn’t be better, I am in hiring mode! (tsk tsk)

  2. SuperHappyJen
    Posted September 29, 2009 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    For fun:replace “woman” with “man”. It works quite well. Except maybe for the lipstick one.

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