|Division of labour and gender in Greece: the case of mining industry, 1870-1950.|
|Mining industry, connected with the investments of foreign capitals, as a result of the 19th century “Great Depression” and the development of European imperialism, was the main exporting trade of Greece to Europeans economies (19th century until WWII and in the post war era). In the productive process of mining-metallurgy sector the technological choice and the gender division of labour were crucial. The composition of the workforce in mines and metallurgy was mainly male, while there participate also female workforce. The paper argues that there are gender characteristics in mining-metallurgy labour processes and shows the significance of gender in the workplace, even in a sector with almost exclusively male labour (mines), which it is considered not to be marked by gender relations.
Gender division of labour oriented women and men workers to different tasks, and thus systematized the wage gap. Technological choice and the uses of technology confirmed and intensified the gender division of labour, while men and women have had different and unequal access to technology and technical education. Formal and informal technical education implied the segmentation of labour markets according to gender. Segmented labour market corresponded to the needs of different productive processes and technological choices. Mining was related with export trade and (male and female) workers of the mines were more or less connected with rural economy (and rural households). Since mining industries they didn’t work regularly but they depended strongly on the demands of foreign markets, the employers didn’t invest in new technologies. On the contrary, they based on sub-contracting systems and gender division of labour in order to reduce the cost of labour and the total cost of production.
Constituent of the technical and social division of labour is “skilled labour” in the workplace. The notion of “skill” is certainly a socially constructed notion, related to gender representations and gender hierarchies in the workplace. In the paper, I will examine the social and gender construction of skilled labour as regards technology and division of labour. I shall argue that “skill” in mining industry and the construction of “masculinity” is related with the high levels of risk, which characterized work in the mines, while the relative “absence” of “skill” and the construction of “female identity” is related to “female” qualifications and dexterities (like obedience to the monotonous rhythms of industrial work etc) and the women’s position in the rural family. I shall argue then, that different levels of male and female labour (skilled, semiskilled, unskilled) coexisted in the workplaces depending on the technical needs of production. But male labour of all levels exceeded (in wages, hierarchy, social status) the equivalent levels of female labour.
The paper draws evidence from industrial business archives and based on an original archival study in the Greek economic and social historiography.