California Bans Women as Toll Collectors on Bay Bridge – They Are Unstable

July 22, 2015, Unstable Women

Feb. 1, 1947: I’m going through my clips on the Black Dahlia case and here’s an unrelated story from the Santa Barbara News-Press.

The state personnel board prohibits women from taking the Civil Service exam for Bay Bridge toll collector because they are “unstable employees” and can’t handle drunks and criminals.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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4 Responses to California Bans Women as Toll Collectors on Bay Bridge – They Are Unstable

  1. Candy Cassell says:

    So for 4 years during and just after World War II, when most able-bodied men were serving in the armed forces, the 236 women toll collectors were capable. But as men returned from service and needed jobs, suddenly women were “unstable.” Only 9 heroic women were hanging on, in what must have been a toxic work environment. So their male bosses had to publicly declare them “unstable” to get them out. They weren’t just quietly discriminated against, they were publicly shamed as inadequate. It is a disheartening window into what was happening all over the U.S. to the women who kept the nation running during the war.

    Larry, I hope your book on the Black Dahlia is progressing. Your fans cannot wait to buy it and read the real story!


  2. Jeanne Feeney says:

    We tip over.


  3. Alan H. Simon says:

    My guess is that “unstable” meant that they didn’t stay with the job very long, so there was a big turnover. 234 women held the position during a four year period seems to indicate that. The additional factor that they couldn’t handle drunks and criminals as well as male employees probably had some basis in fact. I wouldn’t make more of this than that.


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