“Women scare me. At least they do in a factory.” – ‘Joe’, Factory Line Supervisor, 1944, speaking of the problems he’s having supervising women workers
To keep America functioning during World War II, 6 million American women stepped up to take over the industrial jobs left behind by enlisted men, changing the workforce landscape. They went to work in factories, taking on traditionally male-dominated trades likes welding, electrical, riveting and engine repair, producing munitions and war supplies. Apparently, it was so difficult and “scary” for men on the homefront to supervise this new army of women workers, the U.S. Office of Education, Division of Visual Aids, produced this “how to” film (1944) to help them.
It features “Joe”, a factory line supervisor discussing with a foreman the problems he’s having supervising the women in his department. They go through various scenarios, with the foreman eventually offering this sage advise, “Well, Joe, this all boils down to four things to remember: 1) Don’t mix pleasure with business. 2) Women can be awfully jealous of each other. 3) Avoid undue familiarity. And finally, women are more sensitive than men.”
It’s hard not to laugh at the ridiculousness and overt sexism, but it also serves a reminder of what the women who came before us stepped up to do and endured in the service of their country.
Video: U.S. Office of Education, Division of Visual Aids, via Indiana University, Media Collections.