Female Manual Workers, Fatalism and the Reinforcement of Inequalities
This chapter explores ‘the passive woman worker thesis’ - the idea that women are generally more stable, passive and fundamentally exploitable workers than men. It shows how far women’s and men’s actual behaviour in the workplace varied, particularly with reference to industrial relations and control of the work environment. Several men and women perceive inequality and inefficiency in both management and the unions at the factory, but they do not mount a challenge. There was little evidence of sexual harassment, of violent, repressive reinforcement of sex and gender differences and inequalities or of ’mock-courtship’ to the extent described elsewhere. In the case of sex differences, it is clear that fatalism is a way of explicating differences between the sexes in their dependence on the external environment. The chapter discusses the relative powerlessness of women, and particularly manual working women, is continuously reinforced by their membership of the working class and their position as workers.