Race, Gender, and Work: A Multicultural Economic History of Women in the United States

By Teresa Amott; Julie Matthaei | Go to book overview

trained nurses as Professionals, and untrained as Service. 2


Laundry Workers

While laundresses clearly can be classified under Private Household Service (although, since they are self-employed, they could also be considered Managerial), laundry operatives can be classified either as service or manufacturing workers. In 1900, laundry workers were not separated out from launderers and laundresses, and we classified them all under Private Household Service. For 1930 and after, we classified laundry operatives as manufacturing workers.


Managers, Administrators, and Proprietors

In the first half of the twentieth century, many women maintained small establishments such as boarding and lodging houses, inns, lunch and tea rooms, and shops. Their work combined aspects of management, sales, and service, which are now, for the most part, separated out into distinct occupations. We counted all of these small businesswomen under the category of Managerial, Administrative, and Official in the 1900 and 1930 Census years. The relative decline of self-employment in the course of the century diminished women's opportunities for this type of managerial work. This trend was counteracted by the growth of non-self- employed managerial jobs, and by women's increasing participation in these jobs as the century advanced.


Undercounting

In the early Census years, much of women's gainful employment took place within the family sphere, and was most certainly undercounted. The undercount was probably greatest in Agriculture (as unpaid family workers on family farms) and in boarding and lodging house keeping. In later years, production within the family declined, and this undercount became less of a problem. 3


NOTES
1.
See Census of the United States. 1940. Population. Comparative Occupational Statistics for the United States, 1870-1940. Part 1. Chapter III.
2.
For a discussion of the professionalization of nursing, see Susan Reverby, Ordered to Care: The Dilemma of American Nursing, 1850-1945 ( New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987).
3.
See, for example, Claudia Goldin, Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 43-5.

-406-

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