There was a guide from the 1940s on how male bosses should treat female employees and it was quietly put on the shelf. Recently, it was rediscovered and looking through it shows you just how much the workplace has changed in the past 80 years.
This guide was available during the time when many of the men in America were off fighting the second world war and the modern jet age was still a decade in the future. Many women were coming into the workforce, perhaps causing many of the older men who were already in the workforce some concern. That is why the Radio Corporation of America put out this guide. It informed bosses in an awkward way how to deal with women who may not have been seen up until that point in the workforce.
According to the National Archives, half of the adult women in America were employed outside of the home by 1944. Some of those women were involved in the war effort but others were simply filling positions that the soldiers had left open when they went overseas to fight in the war.
The majority of the supervisors at that time had never had to supervise women in the workplace. They likely had the viewpoint that a woman’s place was in the home and they may have thought them unable to work in a ‘man’s world’. RCA, therefore, made this guide to help those supervisors know how to deal with the influx of female workers.
The book showed the feelings of many supervisors during that day, that the male worker was tougher and able to take criticism better. It seems as if they may also have thought that male workers were able to keep the workplace safe and clean, compared to the female workers.
This is absolutely ridiculous!
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.
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.
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.
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.