A 1918 edition of "The Ice Cream Journal" contained this treatise on "Women in Our Industry," by C.D. Monroe of The Albany Ice Cream Company. It's a little hard to read without applying modern sensibilities, but just remember, 96 years ago, those were different times.
It was in June, 1918, that we started to employ women in the manufacturing department of the Albany Ice Cream Company's plant, at Albany. We had decided to make a new brick of ice cream. Within a short time the sales of this product had grown so large that we found it would be necessary to change our methods of wrapping, get more help, or stop taking orders. We had never thought of employing women in the manufacturing end of the plant, but now something must be done.
We advertised in the newspapers for women, and selected four, whom we instructed in the work of cutting and wrapping brick ice cream, and they started at the work. They made good, and our trouble and worry about help in this department was at an end. At first we furnished a man to bring the brick slabs from the hardening room, and after the package was complete, to return them to the cold room, but in a few days after the women became acquainted with the work they did this without any assistance from the men.
We were convinced that women were a valuable asset to our business, and so did not confine them to the brick department alone, but put them in the freezing and mixing departments, and we instructed them as to the proper time to draw off a batch of cream. We found they would watch the temperatures more carefully, get better results than the average man employe.
One woman who had been with us only a few days, was christened the "Truck Horse" by her companions - she would do anything a man could do. If the shipping department was rushed, it was a common occurrence to find her filling tubs with ice, or even assisting to load them on the wagons, and one day when we were short of drivers, she offered to take out a wholesale wagon.
Our factory women employes all report for work at 8 a.m., and work until 5 p.m., with one hour out for lunch. Since cold weather they have clubbed together and cooked their own lunch in the factory, and the men and women eat together and pay the expense on a pro rata basis.
The employing of women has most certainly had a decided effect for the better on the morals of the male help - where we would frequently hear swearing and loud talking, now that is all eliminated. The men have more respect for the women, and that fact, alone has proven to us that women in our industry have come to stay.
Previous to the shortage of help, we always employed men in our factory as porters, but, for the last year, women have been employed with entire satisfaction. They are much neater with their work, and more ambitious than men, and seem to take a personal pride in keeping the factory clean.
The question of salaries paid, depended almost entirely upon the employe herself. We usually started at $8.00 per week for six days' work, and as they became more efficient we advanced their wages accordingly, the average wage being about $12.00 per week.
In closing, I must not overlook the fact that most of us are using women in our industry as clerical help, telephone operators, and stenographers, and our experience has been that if you secure the services of reliable and competent women for office work, they discount the male help. One of our most important positions, I believe, and one where a great amount of good or damage is done, is that of switchboard operator. To be efficient, she must be thoroughly acquainted, not only with your business, but with your city and your customers - able to at all times make quick decisions and answer inquiries intelligently. A woman employe, with such qualifications, I do not believe you can replace with a man.
As regards the employment of women in the capacity of cashiers, or to settle with your drivers, I cannot call women a success in this position. It requires a man, one who is stern and democratic, especially to cash up with the class of drivers that most of us have.
My verdict is, that we shall continue to employ women in our brick department. Men, I believe, should be used in other departments, as the nature of the work is too laborious for women.