Home and Shop: Wages and Working Conditions
If they have $5.00 they stay out till they spend it. You can't make a Mexican work a whole week if they have money enough to live on.
--Operator, San Antonio shelling firm, 19321
FOR many black and Hispanic women in San Antonio, employment carried the burden and the insult of working for less than a dollar a day. Employers frequently rationalized that the low wages paid Hispanics reflected the humble aspirations of Mexican-American workers. One pecan dealer who employed many Hispanics estimated that San Antonio recorded the lowest wages of any major city in the United States, commenting that low pay is likely to persist "where ignorance is bliss."2 The attitudes of San Antonio's employers toward their workers suggest the economic implications of occupational segregation.
The statistics of occupational segregation clearly articulate the inferior position of black and Mexican-American women, and the consequences of their low status emerge clearly from data on wages and working conditions in Texas gathered by the Women's Bureau in 1932. Although industrial workers usually earn more than domestic workers, the Women's Bureau documented that thousands of women, mostly Mexican-American, worked at industrial tasks at home eight to twelve hours a day for less than the Depression pay of three dollars a week that May Eckles's maid, Maria, received. Factory-employed industrial workers fared better than homeworkers, but the Women's Bureau found their incomes also to be below those of industrial women elsewhere in the nation and their working conditions deplorable.
The Women's Bureau survey of Texas workers in 1932 documented many aspects of occupational discrimination that went beyond job labels. The bureau found that "Mexican women were receiving very much lower____________________