Shoe sewing machine

Sexual division of labour

In Torrent, a shoe-making industry developed in the mid-20th century which employed women at home. The pieces of leather that made up the shoes were cut out at the factory by male operators and distributed amongst the aparadoras, women who worked in their own home or that of another, sewing together the pieces on machines like this one. This was piecework; they were paid per item completed. Generally, young women would learn at the house of an expert woman, who would employ them for a period. Once they had been trained, they obtained their own machine, either paying in instalments or purchasing it second-hand, and they became independent. Such work done at home was not legally recognized, and like other jobs performed by women, it was deemed an ‘aid’ to the family economy. Working from home allowed women to take care of the tasks considered the responsibility of their gender (keeping up the house, raising the children, etc.).