Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.

Falkirk Wheel, Panoramic view.
Image by Cameron Lyall, GNU license Wikimedia

23 June 2011

The Woman and Industry

For my industrial example, I choose Verdant workers. This is a safe choice, but I want to talk about the role of women (mainly, because I think people back home should know about). I also included a link (at the end) to an interesting article about space, resistance, and the female jute industry in Dundee.

When visiting Verdant works, I was surprised to see machines in action. The machines were set up in a sequence mimicking jute production. A kind woman, enthusiastic about jute and excited to talk to us about it, ran the machines and walked us through the process. She explained that she had once worked in a jute factory and several times spoke favorably about the experience, specifically the pay. She, a female, represents the average work of the Dundee jute industry. Women worked in the jute factories and in 1905 the epitaph "woman's town" was adapted.

In "Detailing Spaces and the Process of Resistance: Working Women in Dundee's Jute Industry," Emma Wainwright lays down some facts:

Between 1871 and 1911, the city’s jute works employed between two-thirds and three-quarters of Dundee’s working women. The 1901 census, for example, showed that 31% of the female population of Dundee was employed in the city’s mills and factories and, in the same year, “the proportion of married women who had remunerative occupations was exceptionally high” – at least 24.1% compared with 6.1% in Glasgow and 5.6% in Edinburgh.

Unfortunately, historical accounts seem to focus on the "fun facts": stories that describe the women workers as belligerent drunks and husband-stealers. Well, the women were loud mouths, but soberly and productively. Their voices were heard in the unions they created, unions that often suffered from gendered debates.

Dundee has been an interesting place for me, because this case is so unique. I hope to post on other female leaders in Dundee, because there are quite a few worth knowing.

The article I quoted earlier, can be found here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016718506001643#secx3

1 comment:

salvo said...

The MacManus has a book titled "Walking the Dundee Women's Trail" in the gift shop. I think it is mostly women artists and their patrons, but it may lead to other sources.