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The ‘job ghetto’ of women’s work

The Story


Women are still at the bottom of the pay scale, according to a survey published in 1976. It identifies the manufacturing industry as a women's "job ghetto" -- a concept that describes the state of the women's workforce. Women, more often than men, still accept low-paying jobs. In this CBC interview, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) head Grace Hartman explains the job ghetto concept to Mary Lou Finlay, and suggests that women are not being aggressive enough with their workplace demands.

Medium: Television
Program: Take 30
Broadcast Date: Dec. 22, 1976
Guest(s): Grace Hartman
Host: Mary Lou Finlay
Duration: 8:14

Did You know?


• In a 1974 Toronto Sun article Hartman called unions "chauvinistic" because their leadership had been traditionally male. She said it was necessary for women in that setting to be "aggressive," and that they had been "too willing to sit back."
• Hartman admitted to also being passive when she started out in the workforce. She first became interested in unions while working for the North York municipality as a secretarial clerk. Hartman became a member of the North York union and started attending meetings.

• In 1954, Hartman was voted in as president of her local CUPE union.
• When Hartman was elected head of CUPE in 1975, she became the first-ever female president of a Canadian union.
• Hartman believed trade unionism was the best form of organization for female workers. Also in the Sun article, she said trade unions often won in collective bargaining, which she thought was "the best mechanism for bringing about social and economic change."

• Hartman wanted to help women advance in the workforce. She said most women in 1975 worked out of necessity rather than because they were in the career of their choice.
• Hartman was also quite practical about women's issues. She thought it was more important for women to have access to free daycare than to win token advances in the workforce.

• In 1981 Hartman served a 45-day jail sentence for refusing to obey a Supreme Court of Canada back-to-work order.
• Hartman died in 1994 at the age of 75.
• With 294,633 members (1983), CUPE was Canada's largest union in Hartman's day.
• In 2004 CUPE was still Canada's largest union with more than 500,000 public service employees, such as teachers, nurses and airline workers.


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