Women in loading and unloading in Spanish ports from the 19th to the 20th centuries


  • Jordi Ibarz Universitat de Barcelona
  • Mònica Borrell Universitat de Barcelona




women dock workers, occupational segregation, dock work, female unionism


Women were employed in the loading and unloading of cargo, towed barges, and piloted boats on waterways. However, this has been little considered in the specialized literature, both European and Spanish. At the end of the 19th century, women dock workers were important in the ports of La Coruña, Santander, and Bilbao. They were organized in unions and were involved in numerous and important strikes. The main objectives of this paper are to reconstruct the chronology of the presence of these women and their involvement in labor mobilization in the sector, and establish the circumstances of their disappearance after the First World War. This work focuses on the main ports of northern Spain, and opens a discussion about the characteristics and evolution of female work in a sector considered exclusively male. Essentially, this paper represents an initial interpretation on women dock workers in Spanish ports.


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How to Cite

Ibarz, Jordi, and Mònica Borrell. 2020. “Women in Loading and Unloading in Spanish Ports from the 19th to the 20th Centuries”. Revista De Historia Industrial — Industrial History Review 29 (78):45-83. https://doi.org/10.1344/rhi.v29i78.29251.