In the collegiate period in the lives of young men and young women I believe that there is the least excuse of all for the introduction of what we usually understand by industrial education. Of course, I do not mean by this that certain kinds of highly scientific, and therefore highly educative work, which is now done, chiefly by men, in technical schools of collegiate rank, should be excluded. I do not wish to enter, in fact, upon the very wide field embracing both masculine and feminine education, but to confine myself to my text, which is Domestic Science—a noun whose gender is universally regarded as feminine.
In my opinion, domestic economy has no place in the undergraduate courses of any college admitting women. If it were possible, I should forbid the existence of the school of domestic science even as a substitute for the undergraduate college course. It is not possible, I suppose, but it does seem to me the duty of really educated educators, at least, to discourage the idea that the high-school graduate is going to get something, in the two or three years' course of even the best schools of domestic economy, which will prepare her as well for the 'practical duties of life' as will the orthodox college course, and 'fit her better for motherhood.' Ah, motherhood, how many crimes are committed in thy name!—and not the sort traditionally and sentimentally so-called.
The school of domestic science should be, it seems to me, on a level with the present professional and graduate schools, and require, no less than these schools, a collegiate degree, or its equivalent, for admission. And the object of its course of study should be, not to make women better keepers of their individual homes, but to set their minds working toward the formulation of a plan to revolutionize the whole housekeeping system, to the end that the individual home shall cease to be an insatiate monster to which daily sacrifice is made of the talents and ambitions of thousands of women. It is not generally regarded as a monster, I admit. It is a dragon whose ugliness has always been draped in garlands of sentiment. The victims go gayly to the altar in wreaths of orange-blossoms and to strains of sweet music. But, public sentimentalism to the contrary notwithstanding, it is a devouring monster.
That every normal woman has the maternal instinct, and a desire for a home and family, is probably true; that every woman has the cooking and cleaning and nursing instinct is neither true nor desirable. There is no more reason that marriage and the parental function should involve the utter renunciation of a professional, artistic, or business career for the many women naturally adapted to such careers, than that it should do so for their husbands. But as we keep house at present, it does and must mean such renunciation in most cases, because it is not humanly possible for a woman to do exactly double the work of a man.