My partner alerted me to this fascinating 1943 historical abstract from Transportation Magazine. The 1943 article was aimed at male supervisors who suddenly had to deal with female employees (presumably because the men were off fighting a war). The article was terribly frightening. Feministing highlighted some of the more insulting suggestions:
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.
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.
Yikes! We as a society and transportation organizations have come a long way since 1943. Now women are an expected part of the workforce and reasonably so. Moreover, transportation is a phenomenal field for all people as many of the driver and maintenance jobs require few skills before hiring. Public transportation agencies, much like police officer positions, are seen as an ability for the lower and lower middle class to find positions that are secure and pay well; hence their attractiveness to men and women, people of all ethnicities, sexualities and nations of origin.
I would imagine that like many blue collar positions and jobs of manual labor railyards can be rough and tumble places. However, I hope that many more women enter the workforce and articles in transportation magazines speak about creating feminist workplaces and places that are welcoming and embracing of diversity of all sorts.