Monday, January 08, 2007

Industrial Relations 1943:
Equal Opportunity Offenders

Perusing the contents of Industrial Relations Handbook, by Aspley & Whitmore, Dartnell 1943, First Edition, I find stereotypes and misconceptions jumping off the pages. "Politically incorrect" would be politely inadequate in describing some of the ideas brought forth in this manual for today's Human Resources manager.

For starters, let's look at employing women in factories and plants where their mode of dress can create issues in the workplace. The authors assert that women hate to wear goggles. The reasoning is hilarious today, and I would think it couldn't have been taken serious 60-something years ago, but who knows. They hate to wear goggles because... "They want men to see their eyes." And, of course, they want men to see their eyes because women know that the next man they see could just turn out to be Mr. Right. Here's the full text of this unbelievable passage (click on the image to enlarge it):

If women's skills and place in the workforce were so chauvinistically treated, what about racial considerations? There is a section in the book titled Negroes in Industry, but this was not written to acknowledge achievement, rather to raise questions about the competence of Negroes in the work place and how hiring can turn out successful. You can almost see the tide trying to turn in thinking, but it is still rooted deeply in the prejudices of the previous centuries.

As this book was published during World War II, caricatures of the enemy were used and deemed appropriate humor for boosting morale. But again, in today's world, a poster like the one at the top of this post depicting a Japanese person, just wouldn't fly.

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