A Little Respect for the Working Woman
For those of us who have had some teachings of United States History, especially Women’s History knows that the topic of working woman goes a long way back. So far back that it would take several very large textbooks to learn everything there is to know about the working woman. Through out the next few pages I would like to specifically touch on women’s struggles to be treated fairly in the work force and the working conditions and disrespect they were subjected to.
In the 1820’s women were hired in textile mills with the thinking that they were more likely to work for less when compared to a man and that they wouldn’t cause any grief because as soon as they married they would move on. However it actually turns out that these businessmen were dead wrong. Women enjoyed working and earning their own income and for centuries to come they would fight for that right. The big ego’s of men also made this fight harder for women in the workforce. Because women were learning how to use machinery just as well as men and also knew the craft of sewing a bit better, they in turn saw this as a threat. Union leaders actually ignored women’s requests based upon this feeling of women being a threat.
Particularly one man by the name of Samuel Gompers was extremely put off by the idea of women working and unfortunately for women he was the President of the American Federation of Labor. Samuel Gompers is famous for his quote:
“It is wrong to permit any of the female sex of our country to be forced to work, as we believe that men should be provided with a fair wage in order to keep his female relatives from going to work.”
Samuel Gompers also believed that women who worked would not bring up their children properly and any respect they had before they started working, would weaken. Gompers attempt however did not last long because in 1892 Mary Kenney O'Sullivan was appointed the AFL's first female national organizer.