I N one of the Midland division offices, fifteen women worked together in a large area containing desks, tables, and office equipment. Most of the women could see each other as they worked. The work area was also in plain view of customers and the street outside but yet was insulated from direct contact with outsiders because of the cashiers' desks which separated the working area from the customers' area. Group members performed three different kinds of tasks. Some had customer contact as a major part of their job (cashiers, switchboard operator). Others were doing clerical jobs involving little or no customer contact (billing clerk, payroll clerk). The duties of a few were primarily staff or administrative (senior clerk, secretaries to the division manager, division superintendent, and division auditor).
Almost all of the women were attractively -- and in some cases rather ostentatiously -- dressed: carefully ironed cotton dresses or skirt and blouse combinations in gay colors; fancy sandals or highheeled pumps, earrings; well groomed hair and skin. Men were apparently excluded from the group's immediate work area. The auditor, whose office was adjacent to the area occupied by the women, dealt with the women for the most part through the senior clerk, who was their immediate supervisor. The manager and the division engineer had offices on the same floor but rarely dealt directly with the women.
Life at work was made up of small events, which were described with warmth and pleasure, indicating their significance. Some of the women came to work early and spent their time chatting and lounging until the day's work began. If the day's task involved some increased work load the pressure was offset by the