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Women in the workplace: The 1940s guide to gender stereotypes

Mon, 09/09/2013 - 2:11pm
Jason Lomberg, Technical Editor

Watch out for women in the workplace. They’re jealous of each other, more sensitive than men, and SCARY! At least that’s according to this hilariously outdated instructional video from 1944 which probably did more to perpetuate gender stereotypes than shore them up.

Cultural artifacts like this are valuable because, like all media, they reflect contemporary mores and attitudes. And you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of it all, though even the most outspoken foes of the 19th Amendment (women’s suffrage) probably never spoke this bluntly. (It probably represented a form of wish-fulfillment, however.)

Perhaps the “good old days” weren’t so great after all.

Actual quotes from the video:

"Women scare me ... at least they do in a factory"

"Women can be awfully jealous of each other"

"Women are more sensitive than men"  

These days, many companies institute “sensitivity training” in what seems like a direct reaction to videos like this (and the underlying mentality that produced them). I’m torn on the value and utility of classes like that, but more than one manager (and subordinate) from the 1940s could’ve benefited from a refresher course on gender relations that wasn’t patronizing and silly.

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