Clerical work and typing was originally done by men, but from the late 19th century more and more young women began working in offices. By 1923, when this photograph was taken of a typing class at Wanganui Technical College, women were an accepted part of the clerical workforce. Because of its association with male employment, clerical work was better paid than traditionally female jobs such as domestic service.
For much of the 20th century, wage rates in different jobs were linked. The pay of clerical workers was tied to that of carpenters. When carpenters' wages increased, those of clerical workers went up as well. This relationship between wage rates continued to have an effect in the mid-20th century, when many clerks and typists were female.
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