In the largest trade,—machine operating,—about two-thirds of the workers are women. In no trade in which both sexes are employed is the difference in their work more apparent. The weight of materials decides to some extent the division of operating between men and women. Some employers are of the opinion that garments made of such thick materials as plush, corduroys, and cheviots are too heavy to be manipulated under needle machinery by women and consequently employ only men operators. Where light weight materials are used, as in the manufacture of dresses and waists, delicacy in handling is required, and nearly all the operators are women.
[Illustration: Diagram 7.—Distribution of 8,337 clothing workers by sex in the principal occupations in the garment industry]
Four-fifths of the men and two-fifths of the women employed in the industry are of foreign birth and the majority of the native born workers are of foreign parentage. There is an increasing demand for workers who understand English, due to the fact that they are able to follow directions more intelligently.
There are relatively few workers under the age of 18. Many firms will employ no one under this age because of various complications which arise in connection with the age and schooling certification of girls between the ages of 16 and 18. Of 25 women’s clothing factories visited during the Survey only nine had any workers under 18. According to the report of the Industrial Commission of Ohio for 1914 only eight per cent of the workers employed in making men’s clothing, and less than two per cent of the workers employed in making women’s clothing were under 18 years of age.
In general the wages paid in garment making compare favorably with those of other manufacturing industries. This is particularly true with respect to the earnings of women workers. A considerably larger proportion of the women employed in the garment industry earn what may be considered high wages for industrial workers than in any of the larger factory industries of the city. This is clearly shown in Diagram 8 which lists nine of the principal fields of industrial employment for women. The proportions of women receiving under $8 a week are lower in men’s and women’s clothing than in the other seven industries. In the proportion of women receiving $12 and over, women’s clothing ranks first and men’s clothing third.