Front Cover
 The place of the modern American...
 Changes to be made

Group Title: place of American women
Title: The place of American women
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086882/00001
 Material Information
Title: The place of American women economic exploitation of women
Physical Description: 21 p. : ; 20 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Jordan, Joan
Publisher: New England Free Press
Place of Publication: Boston
Publication Date: 1968?
Subject: Feminism   ( lcsh )
Women -- History and condition of women   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: Joan Jordan.
General Note: "This article was originally published in vol. 1, #3 (1968) of Revolutionary age as part of a special issue on ʻAmerican women and the radical movement'..."
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00086882
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 08760898

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
        Page 1
    The place of the modern American woman
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
    Changes to be made
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
Full Text

The Place of

American Women

economic exploitation of women

Joan Jordan

This article was originally published
in vol. 1, #3 (1968) of Revolutionary
Age, as part of a special issue on
'American Women and the Radical
Movement' (publisher: Freedom So-
cialist Publications, 3117 E. Thomas,
Seattle, Wash. 98102).

published by
New England Free Press
791 Tremont St.
Boston, Mass. 02118

It is one of a series of articles on
women's liberation chosen by a group
of Boston-area women and published
by NEFP.


4m, P.

The Place of American Women

by Joan Jordan

The social oppression of women in the U.S. has an
economic basis and calls for drastic.change in the
system. Modern industry by its very nature draws
women into the labor market. Constantly seeking
levers to use against the prevailing wage rates and
job conditions in its juggernaut search for profits,
it creates and maintains minority groups. Where-
ever the superexploitation of the minority exists
it uses chauvinism, the ideological tool of dis-
crimination. Chauvinism takes many different forms,
for instance in the use of terms like polack,
hunkie, spic, chink, kanaka, frog, mick, nigger.
Historically the splits and divisions within the
working class have been imposed through fostering
discrimination to divide the labor movement in any
way possible, turning gentile against Jew, Anglo
against Latin, oriental against occidental, white
against black, and now male against female. The
use of discrimination has as its initial cause and
purpose, the profit motive. The workers themselves,
the worst victims of the disease, may often be its
most rabid carriers. Often, there are far more sub-
tle and sophisticated carriers, intellectuals who
maintain their privileges by 'he whose bread I eat,
his song I sing'.

The woman question, like the Negro question, is
dual and complex. On one side of the duality is
direct economic exploitation at the point of produc-
tion. On the other are the myriad social forms of
discrimination and exploitation, like 'women
shouldn't have seats in Postgraduate schools'1 or
the states in the South that put the flower of
Southern Womanhood on pedestals so high that they
can't serve on juries due to being 'incompetent be-
cause of sex'.2

Karl Marx thought that the class struggle was rooted
in the initial division of labor between men and
women.3 Engels developed this idea more in his
The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the
State. The basic changes caused by women and auto-

Jordan, p. 2

mation in labor and industry during and since World
War II (in addition to the discovery of atomic power
before we succeeded in abolishing war) have provided
both the causes and the means for great economic and
social changes.

The economic exploitation of women, black and white,
is more extensive and intensive than that of Ne-
groes, male and female. The feminine mystique,
i.e. the current middle class concept of the role
of women, parallels the concept of the emasculation
of the Negro male in its purpose (ultimately profits)
and use (forms of discrimination). Women are a third
of the labor force, Negroes one tenth. That profit
purpose is not so much due to the role of the woman
as consumer as it is due to her role as producer.
Betty Friedan, in her book The Feminine Mystique,
while recognizing the effects of a society oriented
to commodity consumption, fails to recognize the
stunting of growth and the perversions, frustrations,
and anxieties forced on women through their use as
a reserve labor force in commodity production.4
Broader and deeper social and economic effects of
discrimination against women exist due to many of
them being heads of families. One out of ten fami-
lies nationally, one' out of eight in urban areas,
has a female head. These are as many if not more
than the families with Negro heads, and receive lower

There is now the possibility of the split between
black and white workers being breeched by women, black
and white cutting across the color line through or-
ganization on the basis of sex raising specific de-
mands to meet the needs of women and children and
reunifying the working class.

The Place of the Modem American Woman

A. The economic place of women is most important.
The material conditions for the complete emancipa-
tion of women have long existed. But it has been
only in the last few decades that women's strategic
position, her assimilation in industry, has so al-
tered as to make that emancipation an urgent neces-
sity. To test the validity of this argument and the
ideas in the introduction, a number of trends must

Jordan. p. 3

The number of women who work as a percentage of the
female population and as a percentage of the total
labor force has been steadily increasing. The number
of women workers has nearly doubled in 22 years,
while the percentage of women (34%) in the total work
force has nearly surpassed the percentage in the peak
war year 1945 (36%).

1. Sexual exploitation is greater than color exploita-
tion. Women, white and Negro, make less annual in-
come than men, both on a national and state level.
White women earn less than Negro men. Women are half
the population and a third of the labor force; Ne-
groes are one tenth of the population and labor for
force. It is far more profitable to discriminate on
the basis of sex than color. In the state of Cali-
fornia there is a difference of $216 between the an-
nual wages of black males and females. It would seem
that women have far more in common due to exploita-
tion based on sex than they have differences due to
exploitation based on color. The black woman is low
man on the totem pole, triply exploited, as worker,
Negro, and woman. There is a larger percentage of
Negro omen workers than total men workers -- 45% com-
pared to 34%, respectively. The Negro woman has
typically been forced to seek work because of the
economic hardship implied in the total Negro unem-
ployment rate of 11-12%.

2. Consider women as heads of families. One out of
every ten families has a Negro head of family. One
out of eight families in urban areas has a woman
head.5 Clearly the low incomes of women, relative
to men, affect not only the women themselves, but
also the large numbers of families for which these
women hold sole or primary responsibility. (The
median income of the female family heads working
full time in 1960 was $4,689 per year, but when
part time workers were included the median was only
$2,968.6) A statement by the National Policy Com-
mittee on pockets of poverty, after a two year sur-
vey in 1963, said that '...families headed by fe-
males... are the most frequent victims of poverty.'7

Consider women as wives and mothers. The majority
of working women are married. This is one of many
basic changes in the composition of the labor force

Jordan, p. 4

that occurred during World War II. Previous to World
War II the majority of working women were single.
Both the extent to which wives participate in the
labor force and the level of their incomes when they
do work are directly related to the husband's in-
comes. In March 1961, about one third of the wives
were working in those families where the husband's
income was under $3,000; about two fifths where it
was between $3,000 and $5,000; and one fourth where
it was $7,000 and over.8 Among mothers with hus-
band present in March 1961, the largest proportion
in the labor force were in families where husbands
earned less than $5,000 a year. 'Since more than
four .fifths of all working mothers are living with
their husbands, it can be concluded that most mo-
thers who are working are doing so to help pay liv-
ing expenses.'9 The percentage of working mothers
with children under 6 in 1961 was about one fifth.
Among mothers with children from 6 to 18 years of
age, the ratio was two fifths. About one third of
the mothers with children under 18 were working in
1961. This percentage has been increasing steadily
since 1940, when it was one fourth. This increase
has been sharper in the state of California than the
national gain. Yet San Francisco has only twenty-
five child care centers today compared to forty-five
in 1945 which were open longer hours and gave more

4. Changes have occurred in women's occupations and
incomes. With the increase in women's employment,
changes have occurred in women's occupations and in-
comes. The median income for year round full-time
workers has not increased. The 1939 percentage in-
cludes part-time women and men workers. The effect
of the influx of large numbers of part-time women
workers into the labor force can be seen in the de-
crease of all women workers' median incomes; 59.1%
in 1939 to 44.1% in 1951, to 30% in 1961. 11

5. Women are used more and more as a reserve la-
bor force, as part-time workers. The use of women
as part-time of full-time temporary workers is one
more profitable gimmick in the employers' bag of
tricks. As the payment of fringe benefits becomes

Jordan, p. 5

more and more costly the employers do everything
possible to avoid paying them. The hiring of a
skeleton crew of prime full time workers, elimi-
nating the young, inexperienced, older or sick
women and the use of a supplementary crew of part
time workers is more and more common. If a union
asks for two weeks pay the first year and three
weeks after the first year and four weeks after
the fifth year, you can bet there will be a number
of layoffs before the end of one year's employment,
or five years', as the case may be. The encourage-
ment of seasonal aspects of work is increasing.
The old-fashioned patriarchial type employer used
to pride himself on planning his work schedule for
the year to keep his full crew regularly employed.
As corporations have merged and grown larger and
more impersonal, the time study men have changed
all that. Layoffs early in November avoid extra
or holiday pay for Election Day, Veterans Day,
Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Washington's
and Lincoln's Birthday, or whichever of these holi-
days the unions may have won. By hiring women for
three months in the summer the employers can usually
avoid paying extra medical benefits which would go
into effect after 90 days. Labor is intensified by
competition between the girls who are told the 'best'
will be kept. This temporary hiring and firing can
be of benefit to the local union also. They may
view as sheer gravy the 90 day workers who are pay-
ing dues under the illusion that they will be initi-
ated into the union after a waiting period. If they
are laid off before initiation they are not considered
members, the local union is not obligated to find
them jobs, all the dues paid are kept in the local,
and no head tax is sent to the International Union.
This is a real windfall for the officer who is more
concerned with dues than grievances. A floating
crew of experienced labor at cheap rates is estab-
lished with the union acting as a hiring hall for
the employers. Thus the use of part time and tem-
porary full-time workers to break down working con-
ditions, fringe benefits and wage scales often has
the collusion of the short-sighted union officialdom.
This is particularly true in 'trade' unions as op-
posed to 'industrial' unions, or in any union where
the 'craft' mentality exists. The long term results
of this policy bear out a statement made in 1952,

Jordan, p. 6

during a Conference on Equal nay, by Dorothy S.
Brady of the Bureau of Labor Statistics: 'It ap-
Dears that where the earnings of women and men ap-
oroach eaualitv... the earnings of men and women are
equally low.'12 Through automation, rationalization
of labor, division of labor and job classification,
the employers take advantage of the wage differen-
tials between men's and women's work and part-time
or full-time temporary work. Meanwhile, the split
in the ranks of labor grows and the gap between men
and women workers widens, not to mention the effects
this has on relations between men and women workers.

6. A comparison with men in industry shows much.
Breaking the income medians mentioned earlier into
large occupational categories reveals that, in gen-
eral, the occupations which gained women workers
relative to men had a decrease in women's median in-
come as a percentage of men's; these were the lower
paying categories. Conversely, those occupations
having declining percentages of women relative to
men had an increase in women's median income as a
percentage of men's. These were the higher paying
categories. While all occupations showed an absolute
gain in both women's median income and numbers of
women workers (except'operatives) in relative terms,
the increase of women workers tended to fall in the
lower paying jobs and in those jobs which yielded
the lowest relative gain in women's income compared
to men's. The exception was the categories of manag-
ers, officials, and proprietors, which showed an
absolute fall in income from 1960 to 1961 and a rela-
tive drop in percentage of women to the total work-
ers in this category. The relative drop in women's
income as a percentage of men's was also marked:
from 58% in 1960 to 49% in 1961. This may reflect a
decreasing percentage of women proprietors or a de-
creasing percentage of women in management since
about half of the women in this group are in manage-

7. Summary of economic trends: W e see in the last
25 years many basic social changes indicated in the
trends we have been examining. The age level of the
woman worker has shifted and more than half of the
women between the ages of 35 and 54 are working. One
third of the mothers of children under 18 are working.
Four out of ten women, married and living with their

Jordan, p. 7

husbands with children over six are working today.13
The vast majority of working women are married as
compared to single in 1939. One out of every ten
families has a female head. The double burden of
home, children and work press down upon the American
Woman. As millions of women entered the labor market,
pushed into lower paying job categories, the median
income of women compared to men dropped from 59% in
1939 to 30% today This comparison is similar to
that in Russia in February 1917, when women's wages
were 1/3 to 1/2 of men's. The first stage of the
Russian Revolution began on International Woman's
Day when the women textile workers went out on


A. Economic categories are first. In almost every
industry and occupation women are paid less than men.
Women are massed in the lower paying major occupa-
tions. In industries and businesses with a wide
spectrum of jobs women are found in the lower paying
jobs. Women are hired for the lower paying jobs;
women are paid less for doing the same job as men;
women are passed over for on-the-job training, up-
grading; women are denied advancement. Why? What
excuses are given for this discrimination?

Many rationalizations exist for paying women less and
keeping them from advancing. Some claim that differ-
ences in performance of men and women justify the
differentials. Women, they say, are not as well pre-
pared for a job as men in formal education and spe-
cific training. Women don't make good supervisors;
women cost the employer more in fringe benefits; wo-
men have a higher turnover rate and more absenteeism
than men. Women's place is in the home. Once in a
great while an employer will admit 'it's cheaper' to

1. Professional women are shrinking. The proportion
of professional women is shrinking. (This trend may
be changing.) As more and more women have entered
the labor market they have been restricted to the
lower paying jobs and prevented from advancement.
This is in spite of the fact that women as a whole
enter the labor market with more training and educa-

Jordan,, p. 8

tion than men. In 1959 women completed 12.2 years of
schooling compared with 11.7 years for men (median).
This was a rise from 11 years for women and 7.7 years
for men in 1940. 38% of the women workers and only
27% of the male workers completed high school in
1959. Consider this in the light of Betty Friedan's
argument that women need more education to break out
of the trap of the Feminine Mystique; if that educa-
tion was to expose the political and dollar values of
the mystique, she might have been right. Women also
lead in college work of less than four years: 10% of
the women workers, compared with 9% of male workers.
An equal percentage of men and women workers have
completed four years of college, 6%. It is only in
five or more years of college that men pull ahead,
with 4% of the male workers but only 2% of the women
workers completing five years of college. The number
of degrees given to women has also increased. In
1952 women earned 9.3% of all doctorates conferred,
31.4% of all master's degrees, and 31.6% of all
bachelor's degrees conferred. By 1959 this had risen
to 10%, 32%, and 35% respectively.14

The case for discrimination because of inadequate
preparations for a job -- with the implication that
the woman lacks the ambition to get that prepara-
tion herself -- remains unproven. The similarities
between the woman worker and the Negro as minority
groups are striking. The vicious circle begins with
the refusal to hire or promote Negroes because they
haven't the preparation, in combination with the im-
plicit assumption that Negroes haven't the ambition
to get the necessary preparation. It continues be-
cause discrimination on these grounds intensifies
discrimination on other,more prejudicial grounds.
The circle is completed when the Negro has little in-
centive to get adequate preparation when he knows
that he will be the recipient of discrimination even
with adequate preparation; hence he is unprepared to
seize opportunities if they do open up. The same
circle exists for women.

2. Arguments are raised against upgrading on the job
and apprenticeships. If women enter the labor market
with a better formal education than men except on
the highest levels, then why the continued gap in in-
come and advancement? One relevant factor is the
question of upgrading, on-the-job training or outside

Jordan, p, 9

courses relating to improvement of performance on the
job and advancement. Who chooses the recipient of
such training and on what basis is a key question
here. The role of the unions and apprenticeship
programs enters in also. Most firms have on-the-job
training both for specific skills and for supervisors.
Opportunities exist for those whom management wishes
to train. There is little information on training
and recruitment programs more recent and specific
than a study done in 1950 of women in higher level
positions.15 Almost all the department stores stu-
died recruited college graduates and cave them special
junior executive training. In all but one out of 29
of these stores, the programs were open to women as
well as men. In only one department store covered
were training opportunities less for men. This store
gave a year's training to the men college recruits,
but only four months training to women.

In sharp contrast to department store practice, seven
out of twelve banks recruited college graduates, but
not one recruited college women. One third of these
banks sponsored training courses for which women were
not eligible. Seven of the insurance companies re-
cruited college women as well as men; twice as many
recruited only college men. Eight of the thirty in-
surance companies conducted training courses for which
women were not eligible.

College men were recruited by half of the manufactur-
ing firms scheduled. Less than one fourth of these
firms recruited college women. Somewhat over one
third of the manufacturing firms had training courses,
and in almost two thirds of these firms such courses
were not open to women. Several firms reported that
union regulations closed certain apprentice courses
to women. In manufacturing, training for executive
jobs often began with overall planned experience.
There was a general lack of interest in training
women for supervisory jobs in production. In fac-
tories where all positions above the foreladv level
were closed to women, they have little incentive to
acquire experience or training which woull qualify
them for better positions.

Management had different accounts of the extent to
which women participated in training courses. Depart-
ment stores said that women attended courses to the

Jordan, p. 10

same extent as men and even appeared more interested
in them. In insurance, few women finished advanced
training even when it was offered to them. Many women
finished basic courses, however. Somewhat the same
impression was given by the banks' experience. Women
did not appear to be interested in advanced training
in finance.

The extent to which women were allowed opportunity
to train themselves for higher level positions gives
insight into opportunities for training on the lower
levels. There is little incentive for a woman to
better her training if all positions for which she
would be qualified with the additional training are
closed to her. For example: 'Women in our plant
have no chance of becoming foremen...' was stated by
a woman member of the UAW in 1955.16 The widespread
use of the job classification gimmick, men's work and
women's work, is another reason for the lack of equal
opportunity for advancement and the low pay regardlisc-;
of the woman's qualifications. The argument that
women are not qualified for men's work become:; moean-
ingless if the only way a woman can get the prepara-
tion for that job is by on-the-job training. In the
unions, the apprentice training programs are generally
restricted to white males with the rationalization
that the man has a family to take care of. That this
same argument is given to women heads of families is
irrelevant. The unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled
classifications are rigidly controlled. As jobs get
fewer and fewer with automation and the competition
for jobs sharper, the payoff becomes more commonplace.
This writer attended a union meeting where a fight
over admittance to membership was taking place. The
worker in question, the son of a shipowner, had been
expelled from the union as an unskilled worker a
year or two before. He was seeking readmittance un-
der the Taft-Hartley Law as an experienced skilled
worker. The apprenticeship period was six years.
One member got up and opposed taking him in with the
statement that he would be willing to give a thousand
dollars for an apprenticeship if they were that easy
to get.

Another rationalization for preventing promotion of
women is the idea that they don't make good supervis-
ors, or that both women and men prefer to work under
men. This is a subjective factor, not demonstrated,

Jordan, p. 11

and subject to speculation that it is not that women
do not supervise well, if accepted, but that men in
management fear that women will succeed too well; the
relevant factor here might be the threat to the male
ego. Count Marco (columnist of the San Francisco
Chronicle) is an example of this. He is the Lucius
Beebe and Barry.Goldwater of the ruling class on the
woman question. As a fire flares up brightest just
before it goes out, so does this last gasp of the
right wing (whose attitude toward women is what one
would expect of a wealthy man's pimp) express the
reactionaries' feminine mystique. While he usually
tells women to stay at home, he really showed his
colors the day he came out against equal pay: '...
tell the world you really don't want it because you
don't deserve it.'18 Only a man with a strong, stable
core of self can see a woman as an equal human being
without its being a threat to his masculinity.

5. Arguments are raised about fringe benefits. Em-
ployers claim that women cost them more in fringe
benefits than men do. This is to justify their use
of women as part-time or temporary full-time workers
to avoid payment of such benefits as well as the more
direct forms of discrimination. A main complaint is
that pregnant women are required by law to interrupt
their work for a number of months, and in most union
contracts the job must be held open and benefits paid
by the employer. In reality, most union health plans
exclude maternity benefits with such rationalizations
as 'maternity is not sickness but an act of God'.
The Women's Bureau, in a pamphlet ('Maternity Bene-
fit Provisions for Employed Women'), shows the re-
sults of several studies, all indicating that no more
than 4% of employed women in any one year will become
pregnant.19 As a comparison, the injury rates among
workers was about 3% in 1958 (this excludes sickness).
The benefits for pregnancy negotiated in union con-
tracts usually are no higher than the benefits paid
for sickness and disability to all workers covered by
a particular contract. Actually, total amounts of
workers compensation for injuries are increasing.
In 1959, private firms paid 'probably more than $25
million'.20 By permitting the door to be opened in
refusal to pay fringe benefits to women workers, the
male unionists are in a weak tactical position when
employers try to avoid paying fringe benefits to men.
Runaway plants move to the 'right-to-work' law states

Jordan, p. 12

or non-unionized regions or just switch job classifi-
cations from men's to women's work or from permanent
to temporary, etc., to take advantage of discrimina-
tory practices and turn the lower wage scale into a
weapon against male workers too.

6. Arguments are raised about turnover rates and ab-
senteeism. The rationalization that absenteeism and
turnover rates are higher for women than men usually
hides the worse working conditions. Our economists
were quick to point out this relationship between
turnover rate, absenteeism, and working conditions in
Russia during the years when they had a law restrict-
ing movement from one job to another. The feminine
mystique silences the tongues of the economists when
it comes to applying the same measuring stick to women
workers here. The turnover problem appears less se-
vere among women in higher positions than among wo-
men in less skilled occupations. The Women's Bureau
study of 1950, 'Women in Higher Level Positions',
showed that different firms give differing opinions
on.the turnover rate of women.21 Almost all firms
whose training programs were closed to women gave as
their reason the lack of permanency in women as op-
posed to men. On the other hand, several company
representatives in the different fields held that,
while lack of permanency is in general a deterrent
to women's advancement, it is not important as far
as the higher level positions are concerned. One
large department store had in fact found that there
was less turnover among young promotional women than
men. A bank representative pointed out that women
who were eligible for administrative and supervisory
positions in his company had usually been there for
ten years or more.

Quit rates for men and women for April 1952 in twenty
manufacturing industries indicate that voluntary
separations among men and women occurred at the same
rate, 23 per 1000 employees. In two individual indus-
tries in the durable goods group, quit rates were
higher for women than for men -- electrical machin-
ery and instrument manufacturing. In the nine other
heavy industries for which rates were reported, quit
rates were approximately the same for women as for
men, with the following two exceptions -- furniture
manufacturing, where women are about a fifth of all
workers and the women's quit rate was substantially

Jordan, p. 13

lower than men's; and lumber manufacturing (primari-
ly a man-employing industry), where men's quit rates
were substantially higher than women's. In nondura-
ble goods industries, on the other hand, the overall
quit rates for the industries reported are consider-
ably higher for women than for men -- 26 and 18 per
1000 employees, respectively. Women quit their jobs
at a somewhat higher rate than men in the large
women-employing industries of apparel, tobacco and
leather manufacturing. (About 50% or more of all the
employees in these industries are women.) Women also
leave their jobs voluntarily at a higher rate than
men in the rubber, paper, chemical, and petroleum
products manufacturing industries. With the exception
of petroleum products, between a fourth and a fifth
of all employees in these industries are women. The
Women's Bureau concludes with the opinion: 'Differ-
ences in the rates between men and women in the dura-
ble and nondurable industries suggest that the rela-
tively lower wage rates in the large women-employing
industries may be an important factor in explaining
some of the turnover among women workers.'2 A radio
parts manufacturing plant in 1951 had adopted the
principle and practice of equal pay five years be-
fore and had found it satisfactory. Management
statement said, '...Equal pay... had contributed to
a greater interest in the job on the part of women,
with a resulting increase in efficiency and a great-
er turnover. Average seniority in the plant is
eight years and women's turnover may be somewhat low-
er than the men's.'23

There is no information on the relative rates of ab-
senteeism of men and women, but one can assume that
adequate day care for children of working mothers may
be a factor. When adequate day care facilities were
established in World War II, 'Employers... testified
that the nurseries had great value in reducing ab-
senteeism and turnover in their plants.'24

7. The White Man's Burden. Another rationalization
for discrimination against women that acts directly
to divide the labor movement and use one section
against the other, is when the employers tell the
male skilled workers, or officers or contract nego-
tiating committee as the case may be, 'We could give
you a much higher wage if you just didn't have to
drag those unskilled workers along with you.' The

Jo:dan, p. 14

Teamsters Council of New York City published an analy-
sis of marginal workers in New York City including the
International Ladies Garment Workers Union. It indi-
cated the women were restricted to the lower paying
jobs controlled by the union. The skilled workers in
collusion with the bosses would trade off wages and
working conditions of the numerous unskilled workers
in exchange for greater gains for themselves. To do
this it is necessary to intimidate the general work-
ers and nullify any real grievance procedures in their
departments. Any militant outspoken women are very
quickly out in the street. (The officers of most
unions today have as their mass base a layer of highly
paid skilled workers -- the top hierarchy of the work-
ing class.) It is very easy for this to be ration-
alized by the 'role of women' and the 'major bread-
winner' ideologies, the social rationalizations.

B. Social rationalizations for discriminating against
women are persuasive in creating an attitude of pas-
sive acceptance.

1. Role concepts are advanced. A symposium on 'wo-
men as a growing factor in the labor force' at the
International Management Conference in New York em-
phasized the fact that 'Discrimination in pay and
sex is rampant. The woman executive has a hard time
winning acceptance. The proportion of professional
women is shrinking. At least part of the trouble
seems to be that some die-hard men and more impor-
tantly, some employers are clinging to the old saw
"women's place is in the home".'25 The fact is that
this is a phony moral rationalization for paying low-
er wages and providing worse working conditions fo:
women than men. If these employers really meant what
they said, they would not hire women at all, but leave
them in the home. Instead they use the feminine mys-
tique to mold women into 'their place' in industry,
the place of the reserve labor force. They can be
thrown in or out of the labor market at will, used
as part-time or temporary workers, kept in the low-
est paying jobs with a minimum of resistance, and
their rate of exploitation is the highest.

2. Propaganda for control of women is widespread.
During World War II, 'idle hands were tools of the
devil' and Risie the Riveter was a dynamic patri-

Jordan, p. 15

otic heroine. Articles appeared on the advantages
of bottle feeding compared to breast feeding. Im-
mediately following World War II, when the returning
veterans needed jobs, women at work created juvenile
delinquents at home, were competing with men, and
surveys showed eight out of ten infants who died of
stomach ailments within the first year of birth were
bottle-fed. But the employers found the rate of ex-
ploitation of men not so profitable as that of women.
So women stayed in industry -- in their place, low
man on the totem pole. Some employers were even hon-
est about it. Those kind are rarer today. During
the Conference on Equal Day, in 1952, when an employ-
er was asked why he employed the women workers in
his factory less for a given job than he paid the
men, he relied, 'Tradition, I suppose... anyhow it's

A survey conducted by Dr. Vernon D. Keeler, head of
the University of San Francisco Management Develop-
ment Center, in 1962 showed that a group of firms in
the Bay Area, employing a total of 60,000 workers,
paid their women executives at both top and middle
management jobs from 10% to 20% less than men. WThy?
'Fully 50% of the 78 firms responding by the time
this went to oress had declined to offer an explana-
tion. Those that did, invariably pointed to the
traditional image of the male as family bread-

3. Psychological arguments are raised. The middle
class concept of a 'woman's place' and its pseudo-
psychological twin of 'feminism and passivity' re-
cently dubbed the feminine mystique, are extremely
valuable to employers. In addition to providing ra-
tionales for discrimination and exploitation they
also serve to give women quilt complexes, making it
easier to manipulate them. 'omen will often compen-
sate by trying to work harder and for less pay. They
may do the work of the executive or supervisor with-
out the title or wage. After all, they don't want to
be dominating, aggressive, pushy, and masculine. To
make docile, happy, efficient, and cooperative work-
ers (females), we need only make the employers ra-
tional, intelligent, and knowledgeable (males).
'These are mental health terms used by industrial
psychologists who have generally worked for business
and assumed the management point of view. They have

Jordan, p. 16

tended to ignore the political implications of their
work, and have seldom examined the values which their
opinions and activities involve.

'The problems of "human relations in industry" are
set up from the standpoint of the company and its
purposes and are seen as primarily due to misunder-
standing and lack of open communication. The answer
of more "cooperation" really means obedience accom-
panied by talk. Class and power are neglected as
facts of industrial life; they are sponged up into
status and prestige. This is one of the many ways of
psychologizing all problems, for of all dimensions
of stratification, status is the most relevant psy-
chologically. Yet the neglect of specific power does
not mean that that manipulation is neglected; in
fact, much of what is called counselling is really
manipulation. And there is in this a notion of in-
dustrial stability, which is pre-bureaucratic to say
the least, consisting of false and contrived human
islands within the managed and inhuman framework of
modern industry.'28

Betty Friedan has very adequately dealt with the ra-
tionalizations for the Feminine Mystique, particu-
larly the motivational researchers' concern with wo-
men as consumers, purchasers of commodities. So we
will return to the value of the feminine mystique
in relation to woman, the producer. 'Using 1950
Census reports, and figures from the Federal Re-
serve Board and also from the Securities and Exchange
Commission, Grace Hutchins calculates that manufac-
turing companies realized a profit of $5.4 billion
in 1950 by paying women less per year than the wages
paid to men for similar work. The extra profits
from employing women ac lower rates than men formed
23% of all manufacturing company profits.'29

Standing toe to toe against the hard facts cited
above, clear and bell-like across the years comes
the declaration of the Russian Revolution of 1917
of the inherent equality of women and their effort
toward making that declaration a reality. The space
flight of Valentina Tereshovka sent women into the
streets dancing all over the world. And how can one
measure the effect of the Chronicle article head-
lined 'Mothers.Ready for Space'? Before Valentina's
marriage, while on a trip to East Germany, she was

Jordau, p. 17

interviewed on television. Miss Tereshkova was
asked, 'Are there married women among the female

She replied, 'Yes, there are married women among
our female cosmonauts. A friend of mine is married
and has children and she was prepared for a space
flight the same way I was.'

Miss Tereshkova was also asked, 'Will you continue
space flight once you are married?'

She replied, 'To have a family is no hindrance for
space flights. When destiny decides that I will get
married, I hope that that will not hinder me from
continuing to fly in space or from continuing to nre-
pare for my next space flight.' (Valentina kept her
own name when she married.)30

Claire Booth Luce, complaining bitterly in Life maga-
zine about how much better prepared the American wo-
men who aspire to space were, told of their capabili-
ties as pilots, well educated wealthy women who had
paid for their own astraunaut tests, etc., while
Valentina had only been a factory girl and had never
even been a pilot. This meant she had a great deal
of additional knowledge to cram besides the regular
astraunaut lessons and tests. Mrs. Luce suggests
that if the Cold War is going to be won, there'll
have to be some changes made.31 She is opening Pan-
dora's Box.

Changes to be Made

A. Economic demands are essential.

1. Society must be changed first. The first essen-
tial to solving women's problems, if one is not ;
naive, is to win a society that poses all questions
for rational solution. That means the elimination
of capitalism, where profit alone even when it
means the waste of human labor power of millions of
human beings and millions of working hours is the
determinant. Women can and will play a key role in
this general historical task. They cannot expect to
solve their problems without a struggle. Freedom
will not be given them as a gift. It must be fought
for and won as a human right. It is not sufficient

Jordan; p. 18

to equate the woman question with the struggle of
the working.class generally. One can no more say to
women than to Neqroes, 'Join us and when we have so-
cialism, your needs will be met.' Because the woman
question is a dual problem, because they suffer spe-
cial forms of discrimination and exploitation in ad-
dition to being workers, there is a need for special
organizations and special demands to meet their needs.

2. Economic organization is of course a necessity.
But most unions have either defaulted in relation to
organizing women, or have used them for protection
of skilled workers' jobs (didn't want them to join
another union or to cross the picket lines of the
skilled workers) or as the expendable element in con-
tract negotiations. When there is a compromise, WHO
is compromised? Although one-third of the present
labor force is composed of women, only 15% of them
are organized into unions.32 However, the ferment
among women may change that. Union leaders know a
good thing when they see it. Between 1961 and 1962
three-fourths of all new members organized in Cali-
fornia were women! This is at the same time there
was a drop in overall union membership in the state.
These women came from both government and private
jobs.33 Given the chauvinistic, exploitative atti-
tudes of many union men as well as employers towards
women, it is obvious that union organization is not

3. Other organizations are needed too. Two particu-
lar forms of organization may be of value here; that
of the Women's Bureaus of the United Auto Workers,
CIO, in 1953 and that of the Negro American Labor
Council. The first developed in 1953 when automa-
tion hit Detroit. Women were laid off with sometimes
as much as 15 years seniority. They organized and
went to the UAW Convention with demands to be includ-
ed not only in the Constitution but in contract ne-
gotiations as well. The four major demands were:
seniority in hiring, firing and upgrading; equal pay
for equal work; maternity benefits in all union medi-
cal plans; and free child care centers for all work-
ing women. In March 1955, the UAW CIO Chevrolet lo-
cal 1031 in Oakland, Calif., passed a number of reso-
lutions sent to the International UAW Convention.
Included was a model FEP Clause to be included in
all future contracts. 'The company agrees that it

Jordan, p. 19

will not discriminate against any applicant for em-
ployment or any of the employees, in their wages,
training, upgrading, promotion, transfer, lay off,
discipline, discharges or otherwise, because of race,
creed, color, national origin, political affiliation,
sex, or marital status.' There was also a resolu-
tion that the UAW model maternity clause must be in-
cluded in all UAW agreements signed in the future.
In the same issue of the paper, The Spark Plug, that
printed the resolutions, an article entitled 'The
Role of Women--Past and Present' said, '...One may
visualize in the not distant future... a call for an
all Trade Union conference of working women... women
who will come from far and near to discuss their com-
mon problems.'34

The Negro American Labor Council developed in the
late '50s as an organization of black trade unionists
fighting to get into unions, to get apprentice train-
ing, to get upgrading and promotion on the job, to
run candidates for union office and policy-making
bodies. Such an organization as this, based on sex
instead of color, would seem feasible for women.
NALC members come from many unions, exist indepen-
dent of any one union. The Woman's Bureau is within,
not independent of one union; it has no members from
other unions.

4. Special demands must be raised. Three main
trends in methods of taking advantage of sexual dis-
crimination on the job have become more and more
widespread in the past decade. They create the need
for other special demands.

The first, the laying off of women and the rehiring
of men in 'women's' classifications at women's wages,
was used in the '53 recession in Detroit. However,
men were more aggressive, less passive in their re-
sistance to this policy. They were more easily or-
ganized into unions. There was no 'Feminine Mys-
tique' to control them.

The second is the laying off of men and the use of
more and more women with the reclassification of
men's jobs as women's work. Electrical assembly in
California used to be men's work. For years the men
in the union felt that they could do better and
should get more than women. As the gap in wages and

Jordan, p. 20

conditions widened,so did the difference between the
number of men and women in the union and the number
of women in the industry where there was no union.
Electrical assembly and electronics industries grew
rapidly during and after the war. Already having
become known as women's work 'traditionally', the
new employees were recruited from among women. The
men in the union complained bitterly about how the
women's wages kept theirs down because women would
work so cheap and how the women were taking all the
jobs. Naked self-interest should have led them to
demand equal pay at the higher male rates instead of
accepting the sexual differentials and to demand a
30-hour week at 40 hours pay, or such a sliding scale
of wages and hours as will provide a job for every-
one who wants it and at a high take-home pay.

The third is the use of more part-time workers and
full-time temporary workers to avoid payment of
fringe benefits. Demands for equal pay to workers
of this type, and complete medical coverage immedi-
ately and by length of time in industry rather than
with a given employer; pro-rated vacations and the
scheduling of work over the year to keep on a full-
time regular crew; holiday pay no matter how long
the worker has been with the company will help to
overcome this. But workers' control of production
and industry will do a lot better.

B. Social demands are important. There are a num-
ber of social demands that will have to be raised
along with the economic ones:

* Free public nurseries and child-care centers for
the working mothers and mothers who attend
high school and college
* Planned parenthood centers available to any man
or woman
* Legal abortions done in free and well-staffed
* Summer camps for all children
* Reorganization of home industry by application
of mass production methods
* Equal economic, social and intellectual oppor-
* Fathers and mothers on four-hour days or short-
ened work weeks so that the fathers may regain
their lost role and growth experiences with

Jordan, p. 21

the children, as suggested by Ashley Montague
* Payment of wages to mothers for the bearing and
raising of children

This last demand would give social recognition to
women for the bearing and raising of children and
remuneration for their labor as being just as impor-
tant as any other form of labor. It would eliminate
victimization due to biological necessity and mar-
riages based on economic necessity. It would recog-
nize the bearing of children as a part of the so-
cially necessary labor in the production and repro-
duction of life. It would help to eliminate 'commodi-
ty' relations between people and establish relations
based on personality and emotional needs instead.
It would make strong self-confident men and women
not suffering from the sicknesses and neuroses of
exploitative relations. Men and women could con-
sider each other as equal human beings with unequal
development of potentialities -- as persons instead
of things.


1. David Krech at UC Medical Center Symposium on
'The Family's Search for Survival', January 1964
2. Sara Louise Buchanan, The Legal Status of Women
in the United States of America as of January
1, 1948, Summary for all States Combined, re-
vised 1951.
3. Karl Marx, Capital, A critique of political
4. Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique. Friedan
believes the basic cause of social and economic
discrimination of women is the exploitation for
profit of their role as consumers. This concept
flows from her position as a middle class in-
tellectual. She almost completely ignores the
working woman, especially of the lower class.
However, she modified this position in an arti-
cle a year later where she differentiated be-
tween women who worked from economic necessity
and women who worked from choice. A woman 'who
must take a routine job to earn money is not
free to choose.' "Woman: the Fourth Dimension",
Ladies Home Journal, June 1964.

5. Women as Workers, a Statistical Guide, Bull.
6. Handbook on Women Workers, 1962, Bull. 285
7. San Francisco Chronicle, December 13, 1962
8. Handbook.
9. Ibid.
10. Pamphlet by Association for Nursery Education,
Northern California, T. S. Mahler, legislative
chairman, California Child Care Centers, Cali-
fornia Parents Association for Child Care.
Facts About Child Care Centers, San Francisco
Unified School District
11. Handbook.
12. Handbook on National Conference of Equal Pay,
Bull. 243
13. Friedan, op. cit.
14. The American Workers' Fact Book
15. Handbook on Women in Higher Level Positions,
Bull. 236
16. 'The Debate on Job Security for Women Workers,'
UAW-CIO Ammunition. April 1955
17. Local 17, Amalgamated Lithographers of America,
regular business meeting, 110 Golden Gate Ave.,
San Francisco, Calif., Fall 1960
18. Count Marco, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 18.
19. Maternity Benefit Provisions for Employed Wo-
men, Bull. 272, 1960
20. The American Workers' Fact Book, 1960
21. Women in Higher Level Positions.
22. Women as Workers, A Statistical Guide
23. Case Studies in Equal Pay for Women, 1951
24. Employed Mothers and Child Care, Bull. 246
25. 'Women's Unequal Job Rights,' San Francisco
Chronicle, Sept. 20, 1963
26. National Conference on Equal Pay, 1952, Bull.
27. Claire Leeds, San Francisco Examiner, Sept.
30, 1962
28. C. Wright Mills, 'Work Milieu and Social Struc-
ture, People at Work, a Symposium
29. Grace Hutchins, Women Who Work, p. 25, as cited
by Joseph B. Furst, M.D., in The Neurotic, His
Inner and Outer Worlds
30. San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 18, 1963
31. Clare Booth Luce, 'But Some People .Simply Never
Get the Message', Life, June 28, 1963
32. Melba Baker, 'Women Who Work, International So-
cialist Review, Summer 1963
33. San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 12, 1963
34. Spark Plug, March 16, 1955 (UAW-CIO, 1031 Chev-
rolet, Oakland, Calif.)

University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs