The organization of production by employers was not indifferent to gender. Labour markets were sexually differentiated, since women and men were considered to be distinct labour forces distinguished by virtue of the differing roles they were supposed to play. The male role was that of the bread-winner, and the fact that this often reflected the reality of the situation should not obscure the point that it was a social construction. Women, on the other hand, were considered as mostly occupied with unpaid domestic work, regardless of whether they were also engaged in work for the market. Bread-winning patterns have been widely debated, particularly with respect to whether the male breadwinner system appeared as a result of industrialization or existed previously as a consequence of a universal system of patriarchy. In parallel with a more cyclical conception of industrialization, recent studies on breadwinner patterns do not support theories based on capitalism or patriarchy but rather support a more historical approach based on the importance of other exogenous factors such as the regional economy, the local labour market and the customs and associations acting upon it, employers' choices or the legal and institutional framework. The following paper is a case study related to working-class women, the cigarreras, who were the main wage earners in the family. It relates to an industry (tobacco) which operated under a monopoly system, and to a particular region (southern Spain), which was fairly underdeveloped in terms of industry. This paper examines from a micro-perspective the universality of patriarchal breadwinner patterns, the discontinuity of the industrialization process, and the importance of other exogenous factors in explaining patterns of bread-winning. It asks whether changing exogenous factors during the industrialization process make it possible for a female breadwinner and male house-husband model to arise.