In the United States, a pink-collar worker performs jobs in the service industry. In contrast, a blue-collar worker is a working class person who performs skilled or unskilled manual labor. A third type of work is a white-collar worker, who typically performs work in an office environment and may involve sitting at a computer or desk. Many occupations blend blue, white and/or pink (service) industry categorizations.
Pink-collar occupations tend to be personal-service-oriented. Waiting on tables, along with nursing and teaching, is part of the service sector, and is among the most common occupations in the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that, as of May 2008, there were over 2.2 million persons employed as servers in the U.S. Furthermore, looking at a more world-wide perspective, the WHO's 2011 World Health Statistics Report states that there are 19.3 million nurses in the world today. In the United States, women comprise 92.1% of the registered nurses that are currently employed.
- Maid / domestic worker / Governess
- Massage Therapist / Midwife
- Hotel housekeeper / chambermaid
- Retail workers
- Food preparation workers / counter attendants
- Vehicle cleaners
- Meter Maid / Parking lot attendant
- Hairdresser / Barber
- Receptionist / Secretary / Administrative Assistant / Information clerk
- Dental assistant / Medical assistant / Physician assistant
- Babysitter / day care worker / nanny / child-care provider / caregiver
- Cosmetologist / beauty salon employee / Make-up artist / Nail technician / Perfumer
- Flight attendant / stewardess
- Nurse / Wet nurse
- Nutritionist / dietitian
- Preschool teacher
- Social worker
- Rehabilitation specialist/consultant/counselor
- Camp counselor / Non-profit volunteer coordinator
- Library assistant
- Dental hygienist
- Personal stylist / Fashion stylist
- Personal shopper
- Casino host
- Car attendant / Washroom attendant
- Museum docents / Tour guide
Historically, women were responsible for the running of a household. Their financial security was often dependent upon a male patriarch. Widowed or divorced women struggled to support themselves and their children.
Women began to develop more opportunities when they moved into the paid workplace, formerly of the male domain. In the 20th century women aimed to be treated like the equals of their male counterparts. In 1920 American women won the right to vote, marking a turning point in their roles in life.
These factories were dirty, noisy, dark and dangerous. Workers frequently breathed dangerous fumes and worked with flammable materials. Women lost fingers and hands in accidents because in order to save money they were required to clean and adjust the machines while they were running. Unfortunately, most women who worked in the factories did not earn enough money to live on and lived in poverty.
Throughout the 20th century certain women helped change women's roles in America. Emily Balch, Jane Addams, and Lillian Wald are among the most notable. They created settlement houses and launched missions in crowded, unsanitary neighborhoods where immigrants lived. Balch, Addams, and Wald offered social services to the women and children often inviting them into their homes and classrooms.
Women took on leadership roles starting in the church. Women became involved with the church activities, a few went on to become president of the societies. The women who joined these societies worked with their members some of whom were full-time teachers, nurses, missionaries, and social workers to accomplish their leadership tasks and make a difference. The Association for the Sociology of Religion was the first to elect a woman president in 1938.
During World Wars One and Two
World War I was the beginning of "pink-collar jobs" as the military needed personnel to type letters, answer phones and perform other tasks. One thousand women worked for the US Navy as stenographers, clerks, and telephone operators.
The field of nursing also became "feminized", becoming an acceptable profession for women. In 1917, Louisa Lee Schuyler opened the Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing, the first to train women as professional nurses. After completing their training some female nurses worked in hospitals, but most worked in field tents.
World War II was the first time women began to work in high-paying industrial jobs that had been dominated by men. They worked in factories and some even joined the armed forces. These women were segregated from men in separate groups. Although women joined the work force they still encountered discrimination in and out of the work place, continuing in spite of the antidiscrimination laws of the 1960s.
Women who joined the armed forces participated in every military field except combat. One thousand female pilots joined the women's air force, one hundred and forty thousand women joined the women's army corps and one hundred thousand women joined the navy as nurses, administrative, clerical and communications staff. à
Two million women took office jobs during the war which offered job security because they had become "feminized".
Life in the working world
A typical job sought by working women was that of a telephone operator or Hello Girl. The workers would sit on stools facing a wall with hundreds of outlets and tiny blinking lights; they had to work quickly when a light flashed plugging the cord into the proper outlet. Despite the hassles many women wanted this job because it paid five dollars a week and provided a rest lounge for the employees to take a break.
Female secretaries were also popular; taught to be efficient, tough and hardworking, but appear soft, accommodating and subservient. They were instructed to be the protector and partner to their boss behind closed doors and a helpmate in public. These women were encouraged to go to charm schools and express their personality through fashion instead of furthering their education.
Social work became a female dominated profession in the 1930s, emphasizing a group professional identity and the casework method. Social workers gave crucial expertise for the expansion of federal, state and local government, as well as services to meet the needs of the Depression.
Teachers in primary and secondary schools remained female, although as the war progressed women began to move on to better employment and higher salaries. In 1940 teaching positions paid less than fifteen hundred dollars a year and fell to eight hundred in rural areas.
Female scientists found it hard to gain appointments at universities; they were forced to take positions in high schools, state or women's colleges, governmental agencies and alternative institutions such as libraries or museums. Women who took jobs at such places often did clerical duties and though some held professional positions, these boundaries were blurred.
Women were hired as librarians who had been professionalized and feminized, in 1920 women accounted for eighty-eight percent of all librarians in the United States.
Two-thirds of the American Geographical Society's employees were women. Throughout the history of AGS women were librarians, editorial personal in the publishing programs, secretaries, research editors, copy editors, proofreaders, research assistants and sales staff. These women came with credentials from well-known colleges and universities and many were overqualified for their positions, but later were promoted to more prestigious positions.
Although the female employees did not receive equal wages they did get sabbaticals to attend universities to further their education and to travel for their professions all at the cost of the Society. Male co-workers portrayed their women counterparts as dedicated and self-effacing. Those women working managerial and library or museums positions made an impact on women in the work force, but still encountered discrimination when they tried to advance.
In the 1940s clerical work expanded to occupy the largest number of women employees, this field diversified as it moved into commercial service. The average worker in the 1940s was over thirty-five and married and needed to work to keep their families afloat.
During the 1950s women were taught that marriage and domesticity were more important than a career. Most women followed this path because of the uncertainty of the post war years. The suburban housewife was encouraged to have hobbies like bread making and sewing. The 1950s housewife was in conflict between being "just a housewife" because their upbringing taught them competition and achievement, many had furthered their education deriving a sense of self-worth.
A single woman working in a factory in the early 20th century earned less than eight dollars a week and if the woman was absent from work or late, their employer penalized them by subtracting a few cents or sometimes paying them nothing. These women would live in boarding houses costing $1.50 a week, waking at five-thirty in the morning to start their ten-hour work day.
When women entered the paid workforce in the 1920s they were paid less than men because employers thought the jobs women occupied were temporary. Employers also paid women less than men because they believed in the "Pin Money Theory" which said that women's earnings were secondary to that of their male counterparts.
Women took typical jobs that were "considerably less substantial then their husbands' in terms of both the average number of hours worked per week as well as continuity over time." However, working women still experienced stress and overload because they were still responsible for the majority of the housework and taking care of the children. This left women isolated and subjected them to their husband's control.
In the early 1900s women's pay was one dollar to three dollars a week and much of that went to living expenses. In the 1900s female tobacco strippers earned five dollars a week, half of what their male coworkers made and seamstresses made six to seven dollars a week compared to a cutter's salary of sixteen dollars.
The early 1900s women working in factories were paid by the piece, not receiving a fixed weekly wage. Those that were pinching pennies pushed themselves to produce more product so that they earned more money.
The women who earned enough to live on found it impossible to keep their salary rate from being reduced because bosses often made "mistakes" in computing a worker's piece rate. Women who received this kind of treatment did not disagree for fear of losing their jobs. Employers would frequently deduct pay for work they deemed imperfect and for simply trying to lighten the mood by laughing or talking while they worked.
In 1937 a woman's average yearly salary was five hundred and twenty-five dollars compared to a man's salary of one thousand twenty-seven dollars. Women today only earn seventy percent of what men do regardless of their education.
In the 1940s two thirds of the women who were in the labor force suffered a decrease in earnings; the average weekly paychecks fell from fifty dollars to thirty-seven dollars.
During the 1970s and 1980s women began to fight for equality, they fought against discrimination in jobs where women worked and the educational institutions that would lead to those jobs.
In 1973 the average salaries for women were fifty-seven percent compared to that of men's, the earnings gap between men and women was especially noticeable in pink-collar jobs where the largest number of women were employed. Women were given routine, less responsible jobs available and often with a lower pay than men. These jobs were monotonous and mechanical often with assembly-line procedures.
Women entering the workforce had difficulty finding a satisfactory job without references or an education. However, opportunities for higher education expanded as women were admitted to all male schools like the U.S. Military Academics and Ivy League strongholds. Education became a way for society to shape women into its ideal housewife, in the 1950s authorities and educators encouraged college because they found new value in vocational training for domesticity. College prepared women for future roles, while men and women were taught together they were groomed for different paths after they graduated. Education started out as a way to teach women how to be a good wife, but it also allowed them to broaden their minds because of it women earned better jobs and salaries.
Being educated was an expectation for women entering the paying workforce even though male equivalents did not need a high school diploma. While in college a woman would experience extracurricular activities like a sorority that offered a separate space for the woman to practice types of social service work that was expected from her.
Not all of a woman's education was done in the classroom, but rather among their peers through "dating." No longer did men and women have to be supervised when alone together. Dating allowed men and women to practice the paired activities that would later become a way of life.
Women's unions and organizations
New women's organizations sprouted up working to reform and protect women in the work place. The General Federation of Women's Clubs (GFWC) was the largest and most prestigious organization; the members were conservative middle-class housewives. The International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) was formed after women shirtwaist makers went on strike in New York City in 1909. It started as a small walkout, with a handful of members from one shop and grew to a force of ten of thousands, changing the course of the labor movement forever. In 1910 women allied themselves with the Progressive Party who sought to reform social issues.
Another organization that grew out of women in the workforce was the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor. The Women's Bureau regulated conditions for women employees. As female labor became a crucial part of the economy, efforts by the Women's Bureau increased. The Bureau pushed for employers to take advantage of "women-power" and persuaded women to enter the employment market.
In 1913 the ILGWU signed the well-known "protocol in the Dress and Waist Industry" which was the first contract between labor and management settled by outside negotiators. The contract formalized the trade's division of labor by gender.
Another win for women came in 1921 when congress passed the Sheppard-Towner Act. The act was a welfare measure intended to reduce infant and maternal mortality; it was the first federally funded healthcare act. The Sheppard-Towner Act provided federal funds to establish health centers for prenatal and child care. Expectant mothers and children could receive health checkups and obtain advice about certain health issues.
Unions also became a major outlet for women to fight against the unfair treatment they experienced. Women who joined these types of unions stayed before and after work to talk about the benefits of the union, collect dues, obtain charters, and form bargaining committees.
The National Recovery Administration (NRA) was approved in May 1933. The NRA negotiated codes designed to rekindle production. It raised wages, shortened workers' hours and increased employment for the first time maximizing hour and minimizing wage provisions benefiting female workers. The NRA had its flaws however, it only covered half of the women in the workforce particularly manufacturing and trade. The NRA regulated working conditions only for women with a job and did not offer any relief for the two million unemployed women who desperately needed it.
The 1930s proved successful for women in the workplace thanks to federal relief programs and the growth of unions. For the first time women were not completely dependent on themselves, in 1933 the federal government expanded in its responsibility to female workers. In 1938 the Fair Labor Standards Act grew out of several successful strikes. Two million women joined the workforce during the depression in spite of public opinion.
Pink ghetto is a term used in the US to refer to work in the job industry that is dominated by women. The term was coined in 1983 to describe the limits women have in furthering their careers, since the jobs are often dead-end, stressful and underpaid.
Pink ghetto can also describe the placement of female managers into positions that will not lead them to the board room, thus perpetuating the "glass ceiling". This includes managing areas such as human resources, customer service, and other areas that do not contribute to the corporate "bottom line". While this allows women to rise in ranks as a manager, their career eventually stalls out and they're excluded from the upper echelons.
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|Look up pink-collar in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
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