ABSTRACT

Gender and work played an important role in the early stages of the process of industrialization in Puerto Rico. During the 1940s the Popular Democratic Party (PPD) started several reforms based in specific gender constructions that defined women as mothers and wives, and men as breadwinners and workers.1 These interpretations of gender, combined with the ideology of modernization, led to the regulation of working-class labor, especially the home needlework industry. The creation of state institutions like the Women’s Bureau (1945) responded to the increasing participation of women in the economy, and intended to defend the rights of the working class. Unfortunately, the colonial state gave emphasis to the protection of sugar workers, and favored factory workers and not home needleworkers.