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If you need a reminder of how things have changed for working women in the past few decades, this quaint little guide for employers from the July 1943 edition of Transportation Magazine should do the trick. Male supervisors of women in the workforce during the Second World War were given 11 tips on “Getting More Efficiency out of Women”. It has great entertainment value and will make a fascinating talking point the next time your granny comes to tea.
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, and they still have the interest to work hard and to deal with the public efficiently.
2. When you use older women, try to get ones who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives. Older women who have never been in contact with 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 doctor to give each woman you hire a special physical examination. This step not only protects the property against the possibility of a lawsuit, but reveals whether the employee-to-be has any female weaknesses that would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.
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 made, service is likely to be slowed up.
6. Give the female employee a definite day-long schedule of duties so that she will 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 for themselves.
7. Whenever possible, let the 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 allowance 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 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 operators’ uniforms, so that each girl can have a proper fit. This point can’t be stressed too much in keeping women happy.