The North Eastern Railway (NER) displayed its reluctance to hire women workers at first when it stated in its magazine that “the company decided, as a temporary experimental arrangement, to employ women porters” in 1915.
There was some debate about gender in the NER magazines for 1915. Some women workers objected to the terms ‘woman clerk’ and ‘girl clerk, preferring ‘female clerk’ instead. One worker also stated –
“It seems rather unfair that our male colleagues should judge us on quite the same footing as themselves… they are inclined to lose sight of the fact that our advent into the railway world has been somewhat hurried… we have not had the advantage of a long probationary period to fit us for filling adequately the positions vacated by men…”
At the same time these women were also being paid less than what their male counterparts had been paid. Trade unions began to campaign for women to be paid the same rate as men, and some women even went on strike for better pay.
Despite these disputes, the NER magazines consistently published photographs of their women workers, and expressed gratitude for the standard of work these women performed – “As in all other capacities women have come forward splendidly to take up railway duties”.