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Job listings for `experienced gals' a thing of the past

By Lisa Hammer, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer

Thirty years ago, it was common for newspapers to list help-wanted ads in male and female categories.

Did male listings read as though careers were being offered, while female listings targeted those just looking for a way to pass the day? Sample these ``jobs of interest -- female'' listings in The Daily Dispatch on Aug. 26, 1970:

-- ``Bank trainee: mature acting gal can have a wonderful future. Hurry!''

-- ``Bookkeeper: No boredom in this lively office, good hours.''

-- ``Bank teller: Have a pleasant day meeting lots of people.''

-- ``Auto dealer needs experienced gal for typing in new building.''

-- ``Gal Friday: Beat the heat in this plush new office plus A-1 advance.''

-- ``Manager: Busy, congenial boss needs you for his detail.''

Then compare the same edition's ``help wanted -- male'' category:

-- ``Retail salesman. Clean, neat, young men who would like to make sales their career wanted to staff several stores.''

-- ``We want someone who has had experience in service and sales to take over our Moline area. This is the highest-paid opening of its kind available.''

-- ``Head man with complete knowledge of all phases of home building.''

-- ``Retail management. And retail work will lead you to top spot.''

-- ``Traffic manager. Experience in common-carrier rates will bring top spot in big company.''

-- ``Men over 18 to assist manager of local branch of international concern. Qualified applicant will be taught all phases of office procedure and personnel management. Must be able to maintain a good, businesslike appearance and be at least a high-school graduate.''

More than 50 ads each appeared in the men's and women's jobs sections. Companies also could be gender-neutral by listing their ads in a ``wanted male/female'' category that had nine listings.

One of the first efforts of the Quad-Cities chapter of the National Organization for Women was to ask local newspapers to remove gender specifications on advertising. Such changes later were required by law.

The Dispatch complied early; the Quad City Times did not. Iowa NOW state president David Stewart said the Quad-Cities NOW chapter wrote letters, met with officials and picketed the Times.

Kathy Kirschbaum, Davenport mayor from 1972 to 1975, put a proposal before the city council for gender-neutral job advertising.

``That was something that didn't last,'' she said recently. ``Ads aren't listed that way now.''

Today's job-seekers can take themselves out of the running for a job on the basis of gender. However, employers -- and newspapers -- cannot.

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.