“The women that the system despised but ended up silencing the whole world.” (A. Rivas, October 11, 2014, “Así Vivieron Los Niños y las Mujeres Durante la Revolución Industrial”). The impact of the Industrial Revolution on the employment of women is, without a doubt, a controversial topic, even to this day issues presented more than 70 years ago, still occur and can be seen as common. Sexual harassment and gender pay gaps are few of the issues that were faced back then and still reoccurring in the present. The gender pay gap goes as far as to women being paid 76 cents for each dollar a male worker earns, approximately about 14% to 21% less than male coworkers. The United Nations, being aware of these issues, made it into one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), thus creating it into a critical and crucial issue, that is in need of a change.
Monterrey is an industrial giant in the economic world, being one of the most important and richest cities in Mexico. Being an industrialized city near the U.S. border, it developed into a hotspot for huge industries that were looking for cheap labor and/or to cover for the loss of failed manufacturing jobs in the U.S. However, as the rate of employment grew, the demand for miners and people strong enough to handle a workshop of a heavy industry, for instance; Fundidora de Fierro y Acero de Monterrey, would grow, as well. Thus, provoking the decline in the employment of women for this type of industries. In this manner, women, trying to earn a living, were not offered the same opportunities as men, therefore stereotypes as women working as maids or simpler jobs that would later to be interpreted as the ideal job for women.
Industrialization in Monterrey occurred after the Second French Intervention, as a result of this event commercial centers and industries exploded with high demand. In addition to the Second French Intervention, external factors like serving as the commercial center of the north of Mexico, were remarkably important, by cause of United States’ high tariffs and high rates on metals, this made industries of metal be founded in Monterrey and is more economical than United States’ rates, and as a consequence of railroads being recently implemented, industries could transport throughout the whole country, thus creating competition between borders. The influence of the government helped these industries to flourish as well, by allowing industries and entrepreneurs to borrow lands and lowering their taxes, and creating an adequate environment for industries to be created and/or being implemented in Monterrey.
Monterrey’s industrial expansion became monumental, with industries like Cerveceria Cuauhtémoc and Fundidora de Fierro y Acero growing and developing in a national and international level. Fundidora de Fierro y Acero became one of the most important and outstanding industries in Monterrey, because of the increasing demand on metals and their acquisition for coal and iron mines. This industry was normally linked to men, as a result of the heavy machinery and the constant deaths that would occur on the daily-basis, due to the exposure of railroads and electrical cables. This led women to have jobs as chemical engineers, as well as office administrators.
Similar to women like María Dolores Palacios worked as a secretary of the engineer who had the idea of the creation of Horno 3, she claims that even though her job is not a “high-wage job or a high position in the industry”, her position, however, influenced greatly by keeping everything under control and bestowing the pencil for this idea to be developed.
Women’s industrial influence was poor compared to men’s involvement. In 1895, there were a total of 552.8 millions of workers, for 1910 the amount increased to 606 million, composed by the proportions of two-thirds of men to one third were women. Women would work clothing and footwear industries, tobacco, textiles, food or beverages, and glass. On the remaining branches, there were no women. In certain industries, the relative number of the employment of women decreased, as in textiles, from 51% to 42%. However, the state’s government, worried of the lack of women’s integration on local industries, they would call upon parents to enroll girls to school, and from there, would be more susceptible to learning about other careers. This was made as a result of assistance to school being considered as “unnecessary” and “redundant” since women’s futures were limited to two professions: a housewife or an elementary teacher.
Payment would be decreased often as well, from 75 cents, it would decrease to 20 cents per day when Fundidora’s salaries would be the highest of Monterrey. Until Fundidora fell to bankruptcy and it is later shut down. Women’s salaries would later change to be a higher value, but not the same as their male counterparts.
Even though male and female wages decreased, as mentioned before, the gap began to increase, once again, in 1996 following the Mexican economic crisis. The gap would vary, depending on the occupation, for instance; female teachers would make 91.2% of the salary of male teachers, while female industrial supervisors earn hardly 66.9% of the salary earned by their male coworkers, according to the International Trade Union Confederation.
According to locals, “… even though Monterrey is the most important city in commerce of the northern region, gender pay gaps are indeed noticeable and easily observed in the working environments. Male workers, even if they are in the same position as their female coworker, would at least earn about 10% more than her, never the same or vice versa .” says Gladys Roa, former marketing manager of Mabe Motors.
In conclusion, the Industrial Revolution created a field of opportunities for employment, even though the act of employing women was not common in some industries, women would still be hired and able to take care of their families. Nowadays, women’s working environment has improved, compared to the post- Industrial Revolution era, in the issue of gender payment gaps, nevertheless this “change” cannot be used as an example, as a result of not being enough to make an impact at a national level. Government’s interest in the involvement of women in local industries was an important factor for opening career opportunities and the employment of women in these industries.