MEN'S POINT OF VIEW

Male co-workers and bosses had to learn to adjust to this new addition to the workplace. Foremen and managers had to learn to adapt to female workers. The workplace environment was a concern (for example, where to put a woman's bathroom in a building that previously had accommodations for men only?). In addition—having never worked with a woman other than as a secretary or nurse, what should be expected? Bulletins, newsletters, and training manuals like “Training For Victory” and “The Foreman's Letter” had extensive content devoted to the new study of women and their work environment: how to manage them, what kind of work was most appropriate, what could they physically handle. These concerns may seem quaint and even prejudiced today, as in the notion that a woman wasn't able to make fast decisions and that work should be tailored to avoid the need for making quick decisions.

Well, it was a novelty but after a while it was just as common as anything. Like women today, you never, you don't think anything about seeing women wearing pants today. It was that way shortly after they joined the work force there. A lot of times you couldn't tell them from men, you know, except for the way they wore their hair...

Earle Bennet (Shipfitter) - Oral History Transcript, PHM

Lack of daycare, the fact that many women had to continue to keep the house, cook the meals, and care for the family —even while working—often lead to a greater rate of woman quitting. Managers needed to understand and address these issues in order to retain their women workers.

Unions also had misgivings about accepting women as members and had to be forced to do so in some cases. By the end of the war, these same unions stood by their female members and argued that they should have the right to keep their jobs.

Some of them was women, and that was a terrible thing. Women. They was supposed to be welders, tackers. And you know, when it got cold, you try to get one to do something, they'd hold up in the bathroom where it's warm.

Raymond Weed - Oral History Transcript, PHM

Rumors and stories of harassment by men towards women in the workplace were commonplace, from whistling to outright assault. And often women opted not to work certain shifts or certain jobs because of it.

But the pressing need to have these women workers in place during the height of the war, and the accompanying efforts of the media to justify and elevate the woman worker went a long way to helping the male working population (both management and co-workers) recognize their worth, and dispelled the earlier myths that a woman could not excel at a man's job.

Well, it brought a lot of changes in the economy, and of course ... a lot of women that had always been housewives went to work, and a lot of them never went back to being housewives. Once they got a taste of, you know, freedom, more or less and earning their own money. They never went back to being completely the housewives, you know.

Earle Bennet (Shipfitter) - Oral History Transcript, PHM

Graph from Mold Loft

View

Training for Foremen Cover

View

Foreman's Newsletter

View