Sunday, October 16, 2005

Workin' so hard that you don't even know you're alive

Even more agonizingly dull and repetitive than you'd probably think: Poring over want ads running in the April 1961 New York Times, collating and tabulating all conceivably relevant data on positions and salaries offered in the "Help Wanted - Female" category, as qualitative research for a lengthy womens' gender womens' and gender history term paper. Still, it is enlightening, to some degree. I was aware of the jocularly condescending term 'Gal Friday' for female clerical workers - used by 1940, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary, and most certainly popularized in common usage by the Howard Hawks film - but not the extent to which it was considered a legitimate job title. An astounding number of listings I've been tabulating so far either give no other title, or else use the term to describe something officially called a stenographic or secretarial position. I can certainly sympathize with the dissatisfaction of early feminists on the count of demanding respect some modicum of basic dignity and respect in the workplace, anyway. (And on that note, let's not even go near the 'Typist/Receptionist' positions that have optimal bra size listed in the job requirements, shall we?) Now, slightly less agonizing: doing the same thing for the counterpart issues of the Globe & Mail. Mainly because they're shorter, and the layout is slightly less eye-wateringly dense. (What? I'm just saying. The Sulzberger family certainly knew how to get their money's worth in paper expenses, way back when.)


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