325--Week 5 Questions/Comments

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Virginia Penny – Watchmaking

This was interesting because in Switzerland women have been part of making watches for generations and getting paid a nice living, but in England women were not used in the process until later. It's good to see at least in some places women are needed in industry and get good money for it. It was also interesting that women were preferred over men because they have small hands and are patient, but still don't compare to men in all other areas including pay, skill level, etc. Even though the reading says at one point women could do equally well with men, they still are not regarded as equal.--Aislyn

Coming off of what Aislyn said, I think it would be interesting to see how many women had injuries (debilitating ones) in American factory work when working the machines that required their smaller hands. I can remember some high school history course where the instructor used to show us pictures of women and children who'd lost fingers, hands or whole arms and received no compensation for it. -- Jeff P.

The reasons in this article for why men were paid better than women are very antiquated but do reflect the times: they do more difficult work (even though it was stated above that in Switzerland and France women did the same jobs), are more "ingenious", more "thoughtful and contriving", it is the custom to pay women less. It is also of note that America was the only country at the time to have mechanized their watchmaking. - Lauren Milner

I wasn't surprised in the least that women were paid less than the men. This "custom" is one that occurred more often than not in every industry, not just watchmaking. I guess it is a good point though that young women at this time were married off and then quit their jobs - thus, investing in training these young women was a waste of time and money. From a business prospective this does make sense. -Elle

I found it crazy to see the differences between how European vs. American women are treated when it comes to watch making, I think it really shows the role of women in culture. In Europe, women are preferred to men in the watch making industry, they are said to require less training and to be more intelligent than their male counterparts. In America, women are treated horribly and quite ironically. I say that because women are seen as not intelligent and not strong. This is the justification for paying them only half of what males get paid. However, women are required to work the same hours as males and are required to do equal work. I find that infuriating. -Erin Sanderson

To be blatantly honest, in agreeing with Elle, I too was not surprised by the lack of pay for the women compared to the men. Also I feel that training these young women was a waste because more often than not they would leave their jobs once they were married. Nonetheless, I do not agree that women should have gotten less pay than men, especially because so many places preferred women over men do in large part to their smaller hands, higher level of patience, as well as the fact that generally women are less careless than men are. As it normally is for women when looking back at times, it is extremely frustrating to see how women were either treated or worse, not even given opportunities to get jobs.--Marren

I think my favorite line was "The principal objection to employing women is that they are very apt to marry just as they become skillful enough to be reliable." Really? I'm not surprised in the least that women in American factories were treated as garbage and were though to be easily replaced (which, sadly they were.) I liked how in Switzerland they were respected for their abilities because of their more feminine features and delicate touch. Put them in a factory in America and they're obviously going to run off an marry. Ridiculous but sadly the theory of the time. Poor women. -Kelly W.

I guess we all know that the glass ceiling still exists, but man, this was a jarring reminder of just how present it was back then. Men "do more difficult work, are more ingenious, more thoughtful and contriving"? Really? Come on now. I think the fact that these women were able to grin and bear it is enough reason for equal pay. Maybe it's just me. -Cash

In response to Erin's comment, I want to clarify that it did not appear that anyone was claiming that women are more intelligent than men in any context. Claims as to their "equality" (the author specifically mentioned that they were regarded as equal in skill in some tasks, no more), were restricted mostly to their nimble hands and dexterity. As a matter of fact, the article specifically defends the higher wages of men as a sign of their superior ingenuity and thoughtfulness. Women just had small brains. Brains a third the size of us. It's science. -Adam Shlossman

I found this article quite interesting. I disagree with Erin on one key point. The women were not required to do equal work, as the article stated they were doing work that did not require much training and predominantly did "light and simple work". I also wanted to point out in regards to Marren's post, that one of the reasons that women were often times more sought after than men by the factories is because they were cheaper and were less likely to work at the factory for long periods of time, thereby causing the company to need replacements for them. Additionally, in regards to Cash's post, I don't see how this article shows how there is still a glass ceiling today, seeing as it was written around one hundred and fifty years ago. -Brian Brown

I liked how this document showed the want for women to work in the swiss watch shop because "women have proved their ability to execute the most delicates parts." Normally reading historical documents, it is the men who are wanted to work in a factory on a specific detail and now it shows Switzerland and France has pushed passed the gender stereotypes where the women stay home and dont belong in the working industry. --Maggie Wroe

It's interesting how Kelly and Elle's thoughts on the "women will run off and get married" theory seem to clash. I think I agree with Elle. I think the societal expectation of the time was that women of a certain age should be married, and once they were married work was usually not an option. We can all agree these norms are horrible, but I do believe they existed. I'm most curious as to why they didn't in Europe. - Matt S

I liked the way on how making a watch was so different in American than in Europe. In Swiss everyone had a specific job in creating their watches. Women had the job of the more complicated part of the watch and the men just put it call together. In American though, they had people running machines to massive produce watches. The way women were treated in both places were totally opposite in the fact that in Swiss, women was given an important role in the process of making a watch, whereas American women just the short end of stick working in the factories. They both had in common that they both got paid less then the men no matter what their job was. -- Paul K

Michael Adas, Machines as the Measure of Men

What is Adas's thesis?

The essay “Machines as the Measure of Men” uses technology and science as a gauge to compare civilizations. Adas argues that technology is the basis that leads a country into global superiority and hegemony. Technological advancement becomes the dividing point between different races and classes and people strive to label the growing gap between the dichotomies of civilized and poorly developed people or countries. But there are different kinds of technology and advancement, some can be in regards to industry or efficiency, others strictly leisure, medical, or cultural. Some are more overlooked than others. I feel like the essay also, ultimately, divides technological progress into a west vs. the rest dichotomy. --Jessica Kilday

Good comment Jessica. I am going to harp on the same sort of thing from this article. I didn't think about technological superiority giving a country a leg up in colonization of other less technologically advanced countries, but this article proves otherwise. Yes, it makes sense that the less developed/industrialized countries will probably want to buy goods from the industrial power houses, but I didn't think about the fact that they could also be forced/coerced into doing so. -Elle

I truly enjoyed this essay I found it very insightful and hypocritical when it came to the European’s views of their superiority. Europeans and Americans saw themselves as the “lords of humankind” they decided that they were superior to all other nations due to their scientific and technological achievements. They also believed that the measurement of scientific and technological achievement is the gauge by which non-western societies might be evaluated, classified, and ranked. When I read this I thought to myself, “isn’t that cultural”. I was happy to see that a few paragraphs later, it was stated that this gauge was culture bound and biased. The essay went on to talk about how writers at that time followed ideology, and how the railroad because the key symbol of superiority. I really liked this sentence, I think it is very telling, “The assumption that it was desirable for humans to master nature and that the scientifically minded and inventive Europeans were best at doing so led many authors to the conviction that it was the destiny and duty of the Europeans to expand into and develop regions occupied by less advanced peoples” (227). Based off this ideology, I found it really funny when the essay made a turn to show that once the Chinese and Japanese developed their science and technology, they were still considered inferior! In fact, the Europeans were afraid that the Chinese would capitalize off their new technologies and take jobs from the Europeans. I think Jacques Novicov had it right when he said that industrial achievements of the Japanese demonstrated that they were the European’s equals. However, Europeans refuse to accept this, they argue that they are imitating Europeans and will never reason logically like a European. I find this essay truly representative of western thought. Is it just me, or do we still hold this ideology of superiority true to this day? I personally think that we still, to some extent, measure superiority based off of science and technology. - Erin Sanderson

While there were many aspects of Adas' article that I found intriguing, I'd like to focus on the historic timeline that he addresses. For centuries the Chinese and Arabian cultures were the most technologically advanced civilizations. The former remained isolated while that later expanded under the guise of religious evangelism. As the technological and scientific advances of these cultures reached Europe, the "Age of Exploration," and "Industrial Revolution" among other trends jump-started European advancement until these nations became technologically superior to the "eastern world" which became inherently "backward" from the European perspective. Recent technological advancements through industrialization and the rise of the "Age of Technology" in the 21st century have enabled these "backward" countries to now outdo the "western world" of Europe and the United States. Yet, it seems that each of these periods of "advancement" came at the steep price of losing valuable cultural identity traits. This begs the question of whether or not technological advancement truly leads to a better, superior way of life or whether it leads to the corrosion of cultural values and principles. -Bryan Lees

Taylor's Principles of Scientific Management

The problem of greater National Efficiency is always a problem from the workplace to the government (i think anyway). I can't blame some workers for slacking when the people who are not doing much are getting paid the same, but I guess the question is how do you get everyone working together at the same rate of production? I would think "initiative and incentive" plans would work, but some people would get pissed because they may be doing their best and still not get incentives and that may cause an uneasy tension at work. Planning out all work is ok, and does work because I have done it. It does get boring and there are ways to get around or cut corners on the everyday, and make management think all is getting done. Aislyn

I found it interesting how new ways of management, a non-mechanical idea, could have just as large of an impact on the workplace as the development of something more concrete. Although, he points out many times that in the new system “the management must take over and perform much of the work which is now left the men; almost every act of the workman should be preceded by one or more preparatory acts of the management which enable him to do his work better and quicker than he otherwise could,” (273). So if the management is taking on all these new responsibilities in directing their employees, what did they do before? Also, the source “An Engineering Student Instructs a Laundress” kinds of points out how little changes in procedures can make a big difference in time management and efficiency. --Jessica Kilday

The way Frederick Winslow Taylor described the system of “soldiering” or loafing certainly makes it seem like the workers were extremely lazy. As someone who can appreciate hard work, I automatically had an adverse reaction to that, thinking that owners weren’t asking for too much when they expected their workers to actually do their jobs and be paid accordingly. But then I questioned Taylor’s description of soldiering. Were the workers really that lazy? Was he exaggerating to so his own system of scientific management, which essentially turned humans into automatons, would be accepted? Taylor’s comments on the laborers reminds me of Henry Ford’s comment during the Great Depression about most men being uninterested in a hard day’s work. Harsh. --Taylor Brann

Transitioning these ideas into the context of the modern world, I found it surprising that this issue of worker productivity has not come into the forefront of national politics in the wake of fierce global competition. In the preface to this article, the publisher mentioned that Taylor's ideas led to a government ban on the monitoring of time utilization. I'm curious if government policy regarding this has changed since that era. - Adam Shlossman

I found it interesting how the author's opinion was pretty moderate at certain points, calling for increases in pay for efficient work and stressing that no worker should have to resort to work at a pace that would be injurious to their health. That wasn't the place I expected this article to end when I started reading. - Matt

I also thought this work rather refreshing in that it seemed to come from someone who understood a worker's limitations. The model of the industrial revolution well on into the 1950s was to get a human worker more closely resembling a machine, with almost a machine's output. I do believe that yes, in this age of global competition some companies (especially those outside of the United States) have extreme versions of time utilization. -- Jeff P.

Frederick's The New Housekeeping

I found Christine Frederick's "The New Housekeeping, 1913" particularly interesting. Frederick argues that by approaching a woman's housework in a scientific manner, she will become 'liberated'. Improving the efficiency of her work would thus remove drudgery from her everyday life. However, I couldn't help but think the exact opposite. By forcing a woman to adhere to rules, regulations, and schedules in her everyday life, doesn't that constrain her within the home even further? By applying scientific management to simple housework, it removes a woman's ability to think and act on her own without being restricted. Frederick also claims that women are "fleeing from housework into professions and outside work" and "refusing to assume the burdens of motherhood". However, I think a woman would rather have the choice between working inside or outside of the home. Applying scientific management to their everyday home lives would further restrain these women to the home. -Lon LeSueur

I was thinking the same thing about using the scientific method in the home and how that would take away one of women's only freedom to take care of her home how she wants to. Yes being efficient and getting things done is great and may give some free time to explore other interests, but keeping on a shedule would become boring and if it were me I would end up stopping it. I can see it as having a positive effect on the workplace where there is many people and alot of work to be done. I have myself planned out the next day's agenda for the custodians I used to lead, so they knew exactly what was to be done in how much time. It worked out, and made me see who was slacking and who was good.--Aislyn

I agree with Aislyn about the scientific method moving in to the home. This directly took away the only freedom woman truly had left. I never really thought about this before nor did I ever think that it would affect woman's rights so much.-- Jimmy Conroy

I do not totally agree with Aislyn's statement though I can not totally disagree either. Efficiency and schedules are both good things in their own manner. One can live their life by a schedule and still be efficient, although many times people do not agree. For example with your custodians, if you gave them a list of 5 things to do and they had 8 hours to do them and they got the list done in 6 hours, would that be categorized as being efficient or as being careless, and not spending too much time on each assignment from the list. With that being said, I do not think that a person should have to live their life by the same schedule day in and day out because than it risks workers becoming bored and not doing as well of a job, this is why changing assignments is not a bad thing because it mixes the schedule up and does not allow workers to fall into a routine which bores them.--Marren

Christine Frederick's "The New Housekeeping, 1913" was interesing. Frederick believed that using scientific management to perform simple household tasks would make everyday life within the household run smooth. The fact that she took time out of her day to figure out how many minutes it took her to complete daily tasks is interesting. Was the use of scientific management in everyday task supposed to give a mother more time with her child? What exactly was it supposed to do other than have a person finish cooking and cleaning as quickly as possible? - Melissa Graham

Frederick's application of the scientific method of housekeeping is an intriguing topic. It is true that decreasing the amount of wasted time in daily cleaning and maintenance tasks could lead to increased production. Yet the scientific method fails to account for the human element within the equation. It's highly unlikely that an increase in time will lead to one being willing to work longer and harder. Some individuals are highly motivated to accomplish their assigned tasks and do enjoy their "jobs," yet it seems more likely that increased free time will lend itself to an increase in time lavished upon the self and his or her family. Other articles and documents that we've read affirm that workers generally only work as hard as they need in order for their families to survive. Thus, while Frederick's application of the scientific method of efficiency is intriguing and could yield great results in an idealized world, it may have had little impact on the daily lives of women. -Bryan Lees

Frederick’s essay about employing scientific management in the household just makes you feel bad for those poor middle-class folks, doesn’t it? Those lucky lower-class families didn’t have to worry about keeping up appearances and entertaining friends. Of course, something tells me that rather than being plagued by the drudgery of constant household chores and wasted motions (and having enough time to think about it for that matter), lower-class women were more worried about earning a living, where their next meal was coming from, keeping a roof over their heads, and other basic survival needs. --Taylor Brann

I found this article silly in some parts, yet very intelligent in others. In regards to some of Frederick's comments, they seemed somewhat trivial and self absorbed, particularly when referring to other classes. However, Mr. Watson did raise a valid point in addressing the complaints of some women about not having free time. His idea's would most certainly reduce the time taken to do tasks and would allow for more free time for women. In response to Lon and Aislyn, I would point out that the husbands of many of these women worked in factories, where they had one task and one task only that they performed for ten hours or more a day. At least some of these women could have different tasks to do and if they were able to finish them quickly enough, have free time to pursue their own interests. -Brian Brown

This is another document displaying the beginnings of women rights and a women actually speaking out in a class assigned text, i have rarely noticed them. "I won't have you men doing all the great and noble things!" Such a valuable line, for a reader. -- Maggie Wroe

What I found interesting about the Frederick's New House Keeping, is how this can be related to Socialist principles about time management and efficiency for women in the home.--Jimmy Conroy

Other documents of Scientific Management, ~1900-1940

I find myself in agreement with the articles against Taylorism. In the "Aresenal Workers Strike, 1913," Maurice Bowen writes that the use of a stop watch "is humiliating and savors too much of the slave driver." I agree with this statement. Forcing people to work at their maximum limit for long hours will not necessarily make for better wages for the employees. - Melissa Graham

To be fair Melissa, I think workers' rights were pretty low on the totem pole at this time. As is stated in point two on page 280, everything these workers did was standardized, and "common laborers are used." The shop owners simply wanted a means of cheap labor. I think they were probably counting on their workers breaking down and not meeting the bonus. And really, if workers underperformed, it is not as though their job was so specialized as to make them necessary. Every worker at the factory was expendable. Not to say that this was right, but I guess just...explaining the rationale? -Cash Nelson

While "Indian Canoe Makers vs. An Efficiency Expert" is about the change in factories to make things run quicker etc. I feel it is also a document that describes the decline of traditional customs, in this case for Native Americans. When a traditional craft like canoe making, quilting, instrument making etc is made in factories and taken out of their original setting, cultures that were associated with them start to decline as well or get replaced. Often times, as seen in the article, the new product is not made to the same standards as it originally was. -Lauren Milner

I don't know what it was about the Laundress article, but for some reason it just kind of made me laugh. It all seems like such common sense information, like shortening the walk and using a cordless iron so you're not so limited. It all just makes sense so it kind of makes me wonder, why didn't people think of this before? I know it's kind of a ridiculous question, but I mean, it all seems like such basic stuff. I guess it's that whole "hindsight is 20/20" thing. -Kelly W.