The Knot Of Working For Women’s Wages

My transition, half a century ago, from high school to adulthood was a little rough, but not for want of trying.  As soon as I had my feet under me, with a starter job (peeling rotten spots off of potatoes in a potato chip factory), and an inexpensive apartment (next to a 6 AM to 6 PM construction site), I considered how to get a better job, doing something into which I could invest myself, doing something of which I could be proud.  I was presentable, I was interested in people, and I thought that I might be good at sales.  I had five new work outfits, one for every day of the week, and a serviceable pair of shoees.  So I considered what products I could sell with enthusiasm.  At that point in my life the most admirable thing I knew was studying, and so I thought I would give a try to selling stationary products, you know, paper, writing implements, office supplies and fixtures, that sort of thing.  One of my very first job interviews was to a well-renowned stationery store in Minneapolis, Minnesota, an employer of a large sales force (which was how products were sold in those pre-computer days).  I think I even made a cold call to get my interview, or perhaps I saw an ad in the paper.  What I do recall clearly was my very brief interview.  I entered the storeowner’s office, he gestured me into a seat before him, he asked me a few questions which I answered earnestly, then I told him that I was applying for a sales position with his company because I admired his products 100%.  He shook his head and leaned back from me, “No, if I hire you I’ll have all my sales force fighting over you, you’re too attractive.”  I was gobsmacked, extremely surprised, shocked, and embarrassed.  And, that was the end of that.

 

My paternal grandmother was not very comforting, just realistic.  She told me that in her experience it was very hard for a woman to do sales.  She said that when the men came back after the war, she had been laid off/let go/bumped from her City of Saint Paul, Minnesota position as a Parks and Recreation Playground Director to give the job to them.  She laughed and said that within a year she had her job back because the men did not want so much work for so little money, and few people had the music, arts, sports, and organizational skills required for her job.  Nevertheless, in the interim she had scrambled to support her mother and young son, and one of the pickup jobs she took was selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door, her territory being out in the countryside.  She said sales work just was not safe for women, and from the expression on her face I understood that she was understating the problems.  So like so many young women before me, I got a job as a nurse aide, at Eitel Hospital where they trained me to comfort patients, feed them, bathe them, and handle bedpans for a very low wage.  It took me a long time to work my way out of that knot of working for women’s wages.

 Caption:  Broken Branches Broken Life Chances

The Knot Of Working For Women’s Wages

by Annmarie Throckmorton 2018

Caption:  Cut From Office Supplies By The Brick Wall Of Sexual Discrimination

by Annmarie Throckmorton 2018

 

 

 

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