Guide to Hiring Women

A friend copied this and passed it on to me as he thought I might get a laugh from reading it.  I hope you will too.

This purports to be from the July 1943 issue of Mass Transportation Magazine written for male supervisors during the Second World War.

Eleven Tips on Getting More Efficiency Out of Women Employees

There’s 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 from western properties:

1. If you can get them, pick young married women. They have these advantages, according to the reports of western companies: they usually have more of a sense of responsibility than do their unmarried sisters; they’re less likely to be flirtatious; as a rule, they need the work or they wouldn’t be doing it — maybe a sick husband or one who’s in the army; 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. Most transportation companies have found that older women who have never contacted the public, have a hard time adapting themselves, are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy. It’s always well to impress upon older women the importance of friendliness and courtesy.

3. While there are exceptions, of course, to this rule, general experience indicates that “husky” girls — those who are just a little on the heavy side — are likely to be 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 also reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job. Transit companies that follow this practice report a surprising number of women turned down for nervous disorders.

5. In breaking in women who haven’t previously done outside work, 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 employe in garage or office a definite day-long schedule of duties so that she’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 employe change from one job to another at some time during the day. Women are inclined to be nervous and they’re happier with change.

8. Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day. Companies that are already using large numbers of women stress the fact that you have to make some allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and consequently is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.

9. Be tactful in issuing instructions or in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive; they can’t shrug off harsh words the way that men do. Never ridicule a woman — it breaks her spirit and cuts 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 uniforms that each girl can have a proper fit. This point can’t be stressed too strongly as a means of keeping women happy, according to western properties.”
Was this really published in 1943?   We have seen many such items and I have fallen for some and have even blogged about them only to find out later that these claims were in fact not true.  While we know that in the 1940s women in the workplace were almost universally under valued and patronised we still find it hard to believe that such an item could be published in a recognised trade magazine

So I Googled our trusty friend snopes.com and found out that this was indeed written by L H Sanders and did  appear in the 1943 edition of the magazine that was widely circulated at the time.

Now look at the eleven hints – which is your favourite?  I can imagine the uproar that would ensue if any company considered hint 4.  And I do like hint 8 as I feel much more confidant if I can keep my hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash my hands several times a day.

Discussion at the Hospice last week, from whence came this photocopy, centred around the various hints and hint 3 the “Husky girls” came out as top choice among the staff.

Women workers at war

Click here to read more about women at work during the 1940s.

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30 responses to “Guide to Hiring Women

  1. I’m not sure I’d ever have the courage to describe a girl as ‘Husky’ though it did make me grin. Thank heavens we’ve come so far since then.

  2. I just started laughing out loud in the end

  3. Hard to believe in this day and age, but I remember as a child how women were viewed…. this is probably right on the money for the 40’s. I shared this on my facebook page… it is just too good to Not share……

  4. Hahahaha! Or maybe not so funny? I am glad, however, to know that I fall into the “husky” category and am therefore, more stable! 🙂 Love this list and the insight it gives into how women entering the workplace were perceived. 1943 was just not that long ago. Thanks for sharing this Judith.

    • I thought it definitely worth sharing to show just how far we have come and the difference int he perception of women in 1943 and 2013.

  5. Lawsuits would ensue if these rules were used today. It was funny, but only mildly offensive. (Sorry, maybe that was my sensitive nature creeping in there :))

    • I too was offended slightly but then saw how it would read now. Men’s perception of women in the workforce has definitely changed over some 70 years.

  6. Incredible! I wonder what the author of these rules would think if he saw women in the workplace now. I work in an office of 21 staff, only 3 are men. The CEO is a woman. Thank heaven times have changed.

  7. These were fun to read. Sometimes it seems we’ve come so far, and others leave room for improvement all these years later.

  8. No3 I want to be a “Husky” woman it is a lovely read who ever wrote this was a bit of a big headed pig. As I understand being born during the war I would not know. But the woman labour force kept the factories going making bulletts and bombs how dangerous was that . These special ladies proved they were as good as men in the work place.

    • The women certainly did keep the wheels of industry turning and the home fires burning while their men were away fighting the enemy.

  9. Was this Mass Transportation Magazine published in England?
    Well, without women filling jobs for the war industry it would have been hard to keep factories going, right? By 1943 the war had been going for several years already. I’m a bit surprised that management should not already have been used to a women’s labour force by that time.

    Nr 10 concerning strong language:
    I remember here in Australia in the 1960s women would drink in a separate lounge in hotels. They were not supposed to listen to the swearing of men!
    I find these days they sometimes swear themselves worse than men!

    In Nr 1 it says to pick young, married women if possible.
    Well, relating back to the 60s again, here in Australia, young married women were not allowed to continue working as teachers. It was expected they would soon have children, therefore they should not be in the workforce anymore. I wonder what did they do with children during the war? Was there childcare available?

    • I thought the magazine was English but now I wonder if it was American.
      It would have been impossible in England if the women didn’t keep the factories operating and the land girls who worked in the fields would have been sorely missed.
      When we first arrived here in NZ in the late 60s women/ladies were never seen in the public bar where the men drank. And as for teachers not being able to work after they were married, I think this applied to some other professions too.

  10. Amazing that this wasn’t all that long ago. Boy how times have changed!

    • You are probably too young to remember the Virginia Slims cigarette ad “Youve come a long way baby” and we certainly have in 70 years.

  11. It’s amazing how we’ve managed as well as we have, Judith, considering all our issues! I thought this was funny, but since we in the States have yet to elect a woman for President or even have one as Vice-President, I think men here still believe some of this poppycock. I wonder what we women would write if we turned the tables and wrote advice on hiring men? Now THAT would be funny!

    • Well Susan we have had two women Prime Ministers, one who ousted the then current PM and one who was elected. She served for three terms (9 years) and is now Administrator of the UN Development Programmne. Whe has been there since 2009 and obviously is highly thought of. Her name is Helen Clark. After Helen we are now back with the suits as PM.

  12. Interesting tips indeed 🙂

  13. An eye opener. Wonderful post!

  14. The funny thing is, I see statements like this published in the comment sections of reddit and buzzfeed all the time.

  15. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    “the draft & manpower shortage has settled the point” – what a laugh! lucky women!!

    Wow, these points were hilarious. Thank you!

  16. WordsFallFromMyEyes

    & loved the bit about husky girls – ha ha ha ha ha!!! 🙂

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