DISSATISFACTION AND CONSCIOUSNESS AMONG OFFICE WORKERS: A CASE STUDY OF A WORKING WOMEN'S ORGANIZATION
This study examines the concepts of dissatisfaction and consciousness as experienced by women office workers who belong to a working women's organization. The research involved participant observation of organizational events and meetings, in-depth interviews and a survey questionnaire distributed to a representative cross-section of the membership. The research focuses on an analysis of the participants' attitudes concerning their dissatisfactions at work and their consciousness of their position as working women. Background information includes an historical overview of women's roles in clerical work in the United States and a description of working women's organizations. The study delineates two main categories of work dissatisfaction: (1) working conditions, including pay, promotions and work assignments; and (2) work relations between workers and employers involving respect, intimidation, and sexual harassment. The relationship between work dissatisfaction and consciousness is reflected in part by the respondents' participation in a working women's organization through the expression of solidarity with other women office workers and direct actions taken to improve working conditions. Direct actions by working women's organizations have led to concrete job improvements for those who work in companies targeted by the organization, as well as for members whose participation has encouraged them to make individual demands for improvements in working conditions. An examination of consciousness focuses on three related categories: (1) job consciousness; (2) feminist consciousness; and (3) class consciousness. A common thread binding these categories is that consciousness is gender specific. Women office workers are highly conscious of their position in society as females, and apply this awareness to their position in the labor market as well as to their overall class position. While it is difficult to isolate each contributing factor, there is a significant relationship between job dissatisfaction, consciousness, and participation in a working women's organization. The author concludes that consciousness is tied to gender experiences, and that the material conditions of clerical work, family roles, and patriarchal ideology and practice contribute to gender-specific consciousness. In order to better understand class consciousness among both women and men we must investigate gender-specific consciousness in more depth.