Susie S. PorterFeb 8, 2022
From Angel to Office Worker
Middle-Class Identity and Female Consciousness in Mexico, 1890-1950
University of Nebraska Press 2018
On this episode I spoke to Dr. Susie Porter, Professor in History and in Gender Studies at the University of Utah. She is the author Working Women in Mexico City: Public Discourses and Material Conditions, 1879-1931 published in 2003, and in today's podcast we will be talking about her more recent book From Angel to Office Worker: Middle-Class Identity and Female Consciousness in Mexico, 1890–1950, which is part of The Mexican Experience Series of the University of Nebraska Press.
In late nineteenth-century Mexico a woman’s presence in the home was a marker of middle-class identity. However, as economic conditions declined during the Mexican Revolution and jobs traditionally held by women disappeared, a growing number of women began to look for work outside the domestic sphere. As these “angels of the home” began to take office jobs, middle-class identity became more porous.
To understand how office workers shaped middle-class identities in Mexico, From Angel to Office Worker examines the material conditions of women’s work and analyzes how women themselves reconfigured public debates over their employment. At the heart of the women’s movement was a labor movement led by secretaries and office workers whose demands included respect for seniority, equal pay for equal work, and resources to support working mothers, both married and unmarried. Office workers also developed a critique of gender inequality and sexual exploitation both within and outside the workplace. From Angel to Office Worker is a major contribution to modern Mexican history as historians begin to ask new questions about the relationships between labor, politics, and the cultural and public spheres.