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Gender Issues in Management
Early Women in Business

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soldiers and ladies in middle ages

Early Women in Business

In our ignorance (and somewhat self-centredness), we tend to think of women in management as a new phenomenon, but according to this coroner's report from the year 1207, this just isn't so:

 In 1207, two young women, Amice Belamy and Sibyl Bonchevaler, were working in a brewhouse in rural England owned by Lady Juliana de Beauchamp when a terrible accident occurred. The two were carrying a heavy tub of grout between them, with the intention of pouring it into a vat of boiling liquid (one step in the process of brewing ale). Amice slipped and fell into the vat, pulling the tub in on top of her.  Sibyl acted quickly to pull Amice out and shouted for help. Unfortunately, it was too late. The coroner's report read, "The household came and found her scalded almost to death. A priest came and Amice had the rites of the church". The next day she was dead.

The coroner's report said that Amice was not yet married; she is described as "Amice, daughter of Robert Bellamy". From various court records and other legal documents, it is clear that young women in northern Europe often worked outside the family home before they married. They would save the money earned from working such jobs as domestic servant, dairy maid, and brewster in order to contribute to setting up a household of their own once they married. Southern European women were more likely to marry in their early teens and to depend on generous doweries from their families.

The heavy labour involved in Sibyl and Amice's job is a far cry from the work we usually associate with women in the pre-industrial age. Although it is true that most women who worked for pay in the middle ages were involved in "traditionally female" jobs in the cloth or food trades, or in domestic service, a surprising number worked at jobs more often associated with men. We now know that women were involved in such activities as washing ore in mining operations, shoeing horses in blacksmith shops, and cutting meat in butcher shops. These female workers can be found lurking in a variety of records: the account books of the businesses that employed them, tax rolls, court transcripts, and census reports to name a few.

It is noteworthy that the business  that employed both Amice and Sibyl was owned by a woman. Female business owners were fairly common in many parts of medieval Europe; we have evidence of women owning and running all sorts of operations, ranging from rock quarries, mills, and shipping companies to bakeries, taverns, and pawnshops.

Amt, E. (Ed.) (1993). Women's Lives in Medieval Europe. New York and London: Routledge.
Found on the Internet:

original report on Sibyl and Amice 
The coroner's report said that Amice was



Social conservatives have blamed Betty Friedan for luring women out of their homes and into the work world but we were already there in numbers large enough to have an effect on society when Friedan wrote her famous book in 1963. It partly started with the Second World War when women were needed in the factories and other work places to replace the men who were needed on the front lines. Families found that two paycheques were helpful, and women found that working outside the home was often more meaningful than just being at home. It was Betty Friedan who let out the secret that cake mix manufacturers added to the instructions to add two eggs so that women using their cake mixes would feel they had contributed more to the process of making the cake! Talk about feeling fulfilled! No wonder work outside the home had begun to look appealing. cover of Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique

This is a Writing Intensive Course


waving hand Exercise
dian marino
Using the piece on the early history of women in management, write a statement that demonstrates the "epistemological showdown" and one that is an "i" statement. I will use these to try to be sure you know the difference between these two important terms which you will need to use in your assignments. Click below to review these terms.
Post your answer in the Moodle Discussion Group.
The Epistemological Showdown i Statements

Check out this important link: Grading Essays

waving hand Exercise
Grading Essays
In your own words, not those from the website, what is the difference between these four terms?
Content, Relevance, Style, Structure
Post your answer in the Moodle Discussion Group.

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AP/ADMS/WMST3120 3.0 Gender Issues in Management
York University, Toronto
M Louise Ripley, M.B.A., Ph.D.