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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 7 (November 1, 1927)

Woman And Railway Work

Woman And Railway Work.

The expanding sphere of woman's activities is one of the most interesting features of contemporary life. Gone forever is the Victorian conception of the limitation of womanly vocation to the arts of domesticity. In science, medicine, law and the industrial arts, she is to-day taking her place in the work of adding to the happiness and advancement of the race.

Apropos of this subject an interesting investigation was recently carried out at the suggestion of the Woman's Bureau of the Department of Labour of the United States, of the number of women employed in railway service in that country. In 1926, on the Class 1 steam railways, there were 61,302 women employed as compared with 40,052 in 1920. Clerical and semi-clerical positions naturally absorbed the largest number of women workers, no less than 51,127 being engaged in such occupations last year. In addition to these there were two engaged in train operation, 290 in shop work, 3,332 in cleaning work, whilst those engaged as waitresses, laundresses, etc., and as telegraph and telephone operators, number 1,814 and 1,427 respectively. Of the total staff of some 1,800,000 employed on the railways of the United States approximately one-thirtieth are woman workers. In Great Britain the proportion of woman workers to the total railway staff is somewhat similar—23,334 women being employed out of a total staff of 690,000. Of the women employed on British railways 9,350 fill positions on the clerical and technical staffs, 4,000 are engaged in cleaning work of various kinds, 6,540 in hotels, refreshment rooms, dining rooms, waiting rooms, etc., 1,531 as crossing-keepers and 1,320 as shop and artisan employees. The women workers on the New Zealand Railways number (approximately) 300—employed mostly as shorthand typists, waitresses, etc.,—out of a total staff of over 18,000.

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