Women's employment “outside the home” during the CIO era was always precarious, buffeted constantly by the cold winds of “traditional family values.” Women were expected to be submissive mothers and daughters, and men, the breadwinners. Not only employers but also many if not most union leaders, as well as rank-and-file unionists, also held these values dear – agreeing that a woman's place was in the home, not in the nation's offices, factories, mines, and mills.
And anyway, if she had a paying job, it was only to earn “pin money.” Once at work, she was carefully taught by “labor relations” counselors, in the words of the title of a syndicated newspaper series in early 1951, “How to Get Along with Men.” Sure, a “girl” got paid less than her fellow male employees and was passed over in promotions. But, advised the series' author, Beatrice Vincent, she should just swallow that “bitter pill”; after all, “you can't do a blessed thing about … the firmly established order,” so why go banging your “attractively coiffured head … against stone walls”? Just do your job, treat your boss right, and he'll take care of you, Miss Vincent recommended, like a valued, especially “delicate piece of human machinery.”
The wisdom of Miss Vincent's advice provoked a response from Helen Kingery, another woman with a rather different slant on the matter, who was an activist and staff member of the expelled Communist-led United Office and Professional Workers (UOPW). She wrote:
You can see, sisters – and brothers too – all those struggles waged over the years for the right of women to work at decent hours, and under decent conditions, were completely unnecessary. […]