Homemaking and Careers

"All women should receive instruction in the art of homemaking as a matter of course... But it should be equally understood that many will wish to earn their living in productive work outside the home."
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IV

Is it any wonder, then, that educated women do not marry? There are, of course, many reasons; some of them we have already discussed. There is the curriculum, which is clearly not developing an inclination on the part of young women to marry early, if at all. The courses educate girls away from matrimony rather than toward it. Then, too, the environment of girls during the college period contributes to this same tendency. There was until recently relatively little opportunity for meeting young men. Today, I am told, girls in colleges near those for men spend more time in social activities than the faculties think is good for them. But it is doubtful if this affects more than the small proportion of the most popular girls. The great majority are at college with a serious purpose. Especially among girls of strong personality there is early developed a desire to make good in a career.

At twentyfour or twentyfive the college graduate is thinking of other things than marriage, which seems to offer her little or no opportunity for personal development. She would try out her wings at teaching or in business, or in some professional pursuit. As never before, opportunities are opening up in affairs, and these appeal to her. Her whole enthusiasm during these vital years is for making good in her chosen work. Her friendships with men suffer because of her preoccupation. She is very likely, also, to improve her economic condition through her earnings if she is employed, and to develop higher standards of expenditure. She becomes 'economically independent.' In some such way as this there are ruled out of consideration the very young men who are the most likely husbands. These men are usually earning little while they are making roots in their own chosen field. In many cases they are men who have voluntarily turned their backs on the pursuit of riches and have devoted their lives to the scientific professions, to teaching, to the ministry, or to various types of social service. To marry any of them would mean hardships and sacrifice, and I imagine many young women hesitate to take the plunge. They thus lose their best opportunities for a satisfying marriage.

I am very well aware that this complicated phenomenon cannot be explained so easily, and that there are other causes at work than those we have listed. Nor am I an apologist for the critical attitude of many men toward college women, or for the shortsightedness of the community which makes it hard for the professional woman to continue her work after marriage without losing caste. I am attempting simply to single out a number of items which can be controlled and which, I believe, are playing a very large part in bringing about the fact
that all too often in the past women have fitted themselves for special professional activity at the expense of participation in domestic life and especially in parenthood. It has repeatedly been shown that only about half of the women graduates of our colleges and universities marry; and those that do marry give birth to a strikingly small number of children, their average being less than two per couple. This is not a local or temporary condition, but a national tendency on an enormous scale. College women as well as men as a class are not replacing themselves in the next generation. To many it has seemed as if our educational system were an effective method of discovering our best stock and then proceeding at once toward sterilizing it. A new order of celibacy is growing up which is rapidly attracting our best people to its ranks. The education of women is the fashion of the day. Ever greater numbers are availing themselves of the new opportunities. If higher education necessarily involves celibacy or sterility, the seriousness of the situation for society cannot be exaggerated, especially since, as I believe, this onesided development implies a serious misfortune to the people themselves.

What is our solution? Shall we reduce the facilities of education for our young women or discourage careers and training for careers? I can hardly imagine anyone saying such a thing. We could not if we would, for women would have much to say about it. This is no longer the manmade world of our grandfathers. Nor would an impartial consideration of the facts permit any such silly conclusion. What is needed is a thoughtful and clear understanding of the greater social good that would come out of a coördination of social policy and individual ambition. The community needs educated and efficient women just as it needs educated and efficient men. The modern world can no longer do without either. But its very existence and continuity depend upon good homemakers and mothers. In other words, there can be no solution until ample provision is made in our educational system from the bottom to the top for the training of future homemakers, side by side with the training of women for professional and other careers. One should always involve the other. Homemaking must be considered a profession; in fact, a major profession. Success in it calls for all the ingenuity and intelligence of the best women. It should, therefore, receive the highest public esteem and approval.

All women, whatever their training, whatever their ultimate ambition, should receive instruction in the art of homemaking as a matter of course. It should be assumed by our educators that every woman will marry and have a family. But it should be equally understood that many will wish to earn their living in productive work outside the home. Provision must therefore be made for the training of these women who have special aptitudes in the professions. Lest I appear too practical, I must emphasize the great importance of providing cultural opportunities in the curricula which are not particularly associated with homemaking or practical affairs, but which are dedicated to the enlightenment and refinement of the personality. I can see no conflict among these three courses. And so I think of our colleges, and in fact of our entire educational system from the primary school up, as a mechanism which shall definitely adapt itself to the training of women for life in the fullest sense, and which, while it develops one group of faculties and interests, shall not forget others that are equally valuable.

These adaptations will not be so easily accomplished. They will require much thought and attention from our educational authorities, but it is a source of great satisfaction to find that many of the girls' colleges have recently taken this matter under advisement and are adapting their curricula in these directions. The development of the Department of Euthenics at Vassar is a step in the right direction. The work of Professor Ethel Puffer Howes at Smith is of great significance. Other girls' colleges are wrestling with the same problem. Many now recognize that the developments of the past have been onesided and disgenic. Today they are encouraging robust health for the girls and are providing opportunities for developing the physique. They are beginning to emphasize the biological sciences that foster a healthy attitude toward the family. Girls are being taught more and more about community health. Training in the sciences, such as chemistry and mathematics, will be given, I believe, a more practical turn. Greater emphasis on community organization will come through the broad science of sociology. I believe the outlook is good for an early and thorough modification of the curricula in the girls' colleges which will stress the ideas we have been considering.

Personally I believe the greatest progress will come out of the development of the coeducational college. The growth of our state universities offers the best solution. In these, young men and young women see one another and work with one another throughout the college period. In this way is offset the baneful effect of the isolation that has heretofore characterized both colleges for men and colleges for women. Incidentally, and without any special effort, there is developed in the minds of the young men and young women in coeducational institutions a healthy attitude toward the other sex. Provided there is not a disproportionate number of either group, such association is good social hygiene. We have learned to appreciate this in our elementary and secondary schools, but it has even greater value for our students in the colleges and universities. It will result in many friendships and in a large number of early and happy marriages. The salutary effect of such close contact between the sexes during the college years will be as noticeable on the young men as on the young women. There will be greater mutual understanding, and therefore greater respect and sympathy in the management of the details of family life a most desirable thing, not only for the individuals concerned, but for society as well. Under such conditions more and more college women will be encouraged to take on the obligation of marriage and of homemaking at younger ages, and, under the sympathetic encouragement of their husbands, many of them will wish, for a period at least, to engage in outside employment or professional work. I doubt very much that such adventures are likely to be less discriminating than the marriages of older people. After all, the college graduate is of voting age and of above average intelligence. Such evidence as we have concerning early marriage does not indicate any real hazard, but rather real gains for all concerned.

What shall be the community attitude toward these women? I insist on constant accommodation to make the combination of professional activity and homemaking mutually possible. There is no reason why women who are engaged in profitable activity should not, at the same time, engage in homemaking. It should be thoroughly approved in so far as it can be accomplished without injury to the best interests of the home. We are creatures of fashion and do what our community expects us to do. If the community approves of this combination, more and more women will participate in it. There will, of course, be periods of absence from work when the children are coming and while they are young, when the mother's full attention must be directed to their welfare. But, even then, parttime work and freelance jobs are always possible. The investigation which is being conducted under the general direction of Mrs. Howes at the Institute for the Coordination of Women's Interests at Smith College will disclose many opportunities for this type of activity. It is hoped also that investigations into the routine of domestic management will result in labor and time-saving devices and procedures which will add to the freedom and leisure of young married women.

Teaching is the pursuit of the largest number of women outside of homemaking. Six hundred thousand are now engaged in this field, and more and more are entering it. Heretofore they have swelled the ranks of the unmarried. But I can see no good reason for this misfortune. Those teachers who would marry should be encouraged to do so and should by this fact not forfeit their position or standing in the community. Accommodation should be made for continued teaching, either as substitutes or for whole terms, as they find it possible. This will keep their proficiency at a high point until they can later perhaps at fortyfive, when their families have grown up return to their professions with new zeal and without serious interruptions. Women who have brought up their own families should make the very best teachers because they have been mothers. A new vitality and vigor would animate our educational system if we could avail ourselves of the intelligence and sympathy of the large number of splendid women who have all of the pedagogical equipment but until now have not had the opportunity to serve the community in their own special field.

Finally, in the case of the large number of married women who do not participate in either fulltime or parttime gainful employment, provision must be made for their increased participation in the varied activities of the community. There should always be opportunity for these welltrained and experienced women to express themselves in community affairs, which are being rapidly developed in so many directions. In our towns and cities, women's clubs and women's committees can play a more active part in social movements and become a most important factor in civic life. Women can achieve real leadership in educational policy; they can raise the standards of our schools, secure reforms in politics, participate in townplanning in short, bring about a newer and better social order. These opportunities for the educated homemaker will give rare satisfactions, comparable to those which spur professional and business women to higher achievement.

To my mind there is no longer legitimate reason for the conflict that has apparently existed in the past between professional careers and homemaking. There is no necessity for women to make a deliberate choice of one alternative or the other. Why should they not round out their lives with many interests and carry on simultaneously different lines of activity - each in its proper place and each contributing directly to the fuller life? The answer to the question I have raised is to attack directly those items that have sharpened the division between the separate spheres in the past and to remove them. We must above all things learn to pay due honor to the mother and homemaker. Hers is the greatest service. For those who feel the necessity for selfexpression in other fields, let there also be ample reward and honor, but always let us leave the door wide open for interchange between the two spheres, that they may cross and supplement each other. If our educators and leaders of public opinion will make the necessary accommodations and adjustments, the problem, I believe, will ultimately be solved.

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