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mon-place that "textiles" and the needle trades have always been women's work; but it is not so generally known that cigar-making was at first a woman's trade, and that American cigars were made by Connecticut farmers' wives until the immigrant cigar maker took this trade away from the home. Women were found in printing offices in the eighteenth century, and women and girls worked along with the men to establish the boot and shoe industry in New England. As early as 1810 it was reported that the women shoebinders of Lynn had earned $50,000 in a single year. In 1837 shoebinding was the occupation of seventeen thousand women in Massachusetts; and Lucy Larcom has left us the picture of the woman in this trade in her familiar poem of “Hannah at the Window Binding Shoes.”
Attention should be called once more to the fact that the “woman movement” of the last century belongs almost exclusively to educated women. So far as industrial employments are concerned, they were considered especially suited to women at a time when men did not regard such work as profitable enough for them. By prior right of occupation and by the invitation of early philanthropists and statesmen, the working woman holds a place of her own in this field. In the days when the earliest factories were calling for operatives the public moralist denounced her for "eating the bread of idleness," if she refused to obey the call. Now that there is some fear that profuse immigration has given us an over-supply of labor, and that there may not be work enough for the men, it is the public moralist again who finds that her proper place is at home, and that the world of industry was created for men.
The fruits of that long struggle for what is, perhaps, nebulously described as “women's rights," lie almost exclusively in the hands of the college women of today. The world she faces is a new one, in which a social revolution has swept away the old fettering traditions of inequality. But in all of these years the working woman's measure of progress has been pitifully small. The world of opportunity, for her, is very much as her great-grandmother left it, and she struggles that her daughters' heritage may be at least the right to toil.
EFFICIENCY AND WAGE OF WOMEN IN GAINFUL OCCU
SUSAN M. KINGSBURY
“If I had my life to live over again I should be trained to do something." This remark, made ten years ago, was the dying comment of one of California's pioneers, a noble woman, whose experience had carried her from an Indiana clearing to a California mining camp, from the wheat fields to the garden of orchards. And yet this woman was a model housekeeper and home-maker, a power in her small social group. It was prophetic of the spirit of the present decade. From the lowest paid worker in the most unskilled part of mill life, through every stage and grade of society, to the cultured, educated woman seeking a lucrative occupation, the demand is repeated from employer to employer and from employee to employee:- More skill, greater efficiency, higher responsibilities on the one side; higher wages, greater opportunities, more leisure on the other.
Just what the facts may be from which to discover either the efficiency or the wage of women in gainful occupations is most difficult to determine. We have "winked at all the Homers down the road” we could see, but very few have "winked back.” The Twelfth Census volume on Statistics of Women at Work does not mention wages, while the volume on Employees and Wages is almost useless on the most important occupations in women's work, because of the methods of classification. The recent volume on Women's Work and Wages,' a study of 6,000 working women in Birmingham, is suggestive; but the difference in kind of work done by English women, the difference in the standard of living and hence in wage-results, contributes too little to the knowledge of conditions in American cities. The striking feature of the work is the similarity of problem and difficulty. Miss Florence Marshall's review
"By Edward Cadbury, M. Cecile Matheson, and George Shann, American Edition by the University of Chicago Press, 1907.
of conditions in her brochure on Industrial Training for Women, and Dr. Edith Abbot's discussions of special subjects, such as the cigar trade, together with our own researches for the Massachusetts Commission on Industrial and Technical Education, 1906, are, after all, the chief sources of information.
All are agreed with Miss Marshall that in industrial life, with the exception of the needle trades, women are doing the unskilled work rather than the skilled work, and are receiving wages which are below the necessities of life. They have crowded men out of those occupations, which require the least physical strength and from which there is little chance of promotion, and have formed a noncompeting group, as far as sex is concerned. But just here the explanation of the low wage is apparent. Within this group the competition is most keen, most uneven, and most uncontrollable. This group does not include many of the pestiferous "pocket-money girls." It is, rather, composed of women who, having no training, no skill, no efficiency, must strive for their daily bread and accept whatever falls to their lot. Efficiency and wage have no connection in this group. To the utmost they are characterized by the following statement in Womens' Work and Wages: They have a "general subjection and lack of education, and a consequent'narrow outlook,” never trying to understand their safeguards, having no idea of the way out. They range from the most illiterate to the better classes, but are on a par in their lack of "general ability and industrial experience." Their work consists of repetitions of simple processes, some pleasant, some unpleasant, but alike deadening and without hope.
It may not—it will not-be possible to elevate this group into the skilled occupations of even a low grade; but the trade schools are proving two facts: First, that the number in this group can be reduced by preparing girls to enter better trades and thus lessening the intense competition; and second, that certain qualities may be gained by education which shall mean that the work shall “develop and humanize the worker." The two powers necessary are, first and foremost, to gain a knowledge of the essentials of industrial processes, so that woman need not be dependent on man for some part of her work, such as is customary in repairing or regulat
Miss Marshall's pamphlet is published by the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education.
* Appeared in Journal of Political Economy.
ing machines; and may comprehend her money value; and second, a sense of the value of the group and a willingness to sink the wish of the individual in the good of the whole, to sacrifice personal advantage for the benefit of the many. Thus a certain gradation of efficiency will give a power to command as well as to demand a suit
The higher grade of industrial work for women—the needle trades—seem to be more encouraging; yet the stress of competition among the workers, the large numbers of mediocre workers, the rapid increase of machine work, the sudden breaking down of apprenticeship, the absolute lack of economic sense among the operatives create an unexpectedly low wage for what often seems to be a high grade of skill. With the greater requirements come new difficulties. The seasonal occupations, which apparently afford a higher wage but really give less than the living wage for the year, require a higher grade of intelligence to enable the woman to find incidental occupation, to save for idle time, and to make that idle time productive in her own home. Let us accept Miss Marshall's standard of the living wage-and we can not do better: "that which shall bring to the mature worker of ordinary efficiency $10 to $15 per week, or $500 or more per year, after a reasonable length of time. The length of time should not exceed five years." But she finds that the needle trades apparently do not afford this living wage to a majority of the workers. What then is the difficulty? Again we reach the same general weakness—the fact that “women are governed by the customs, standards, and traditions of the past, not only in economic, but in many other ways as well." The "hereditary incapacity for transacting business,” the tendency to consider social classes, the thought of marriage as soon approaching, the dislike of organization, meetings, dues, agreements, all result in the absence of united or individual effort and of all-round efficiency, which the higher trade requires. Added to this is, again, the inadequacy of home and school training to prepare the girls for the trade life. Little does she know of mechanics or machinery, and yet the machine is to be her tool. Arithmetic, book-keeping, geometry, and mechanical drawing are taught her brothers only; yet she is to earn her livelihood in a trade where cutting, drafting, designing, measuring, estimating amounts and costs are alone the
Women's Work and Wages, p. 136.
key to the higher positions. Again, the sudden failure of the old apprenticeship system has certainly filled our industries with the mediocre worker, unfit to earn or to claim a suitable wage. Technical skill is sadly wanting.
The Boston and the Manhattan Trade Schools are attempting to prove that efficiency will bring wage. But this is meaning a certain substitution for legislation; for the schools are aiding the individual to know her worth and to claim it. Already the willingness of a few employers to grant a higher wage than is demanded augers well for the future. To be efficient, to know the value of one's work, to be willing to insist on the recognition of that value for herself and for others—this must mean progress. But at bottom must be efficiency. The function of the trade school can not yet be proved. The comparison at present cannot be, as it should be, between the girl trained in the school and the girl trained in the shop, because the schools have not been established for a sufficiently long time. Neithes can the comparison be between the girl trained in the school and the woman trained under the old scheme of apprenticeship; for such women will be no more. The only tests at present are, first, in the comparison between the girls who can not enter the higher trade and the girl who has had the training—between the girl in unskilled and in skilled work-and this, as far as wage is concerned, is a comparison between $6, $8, $10 (the maximum) and e progress from $6 to $8, $10, $15, $25; second, in discovering the qualities these schools develop. The most experienced of business men seem to agree that ambition is the key-note to success. Let us not lose our old adage: “Where there is a will there is a way." The difficulty seems to be that our public schools are not at present ceveloping any "will." Our trade schools seem to be succeeding derein, also.
In commercial and professional life several complications appear to interfere with the proper coordination between wage and efficiency. The "pocket-money girls," who fortunately are not very numerous, and the idea of “compensations” are difficulties which supplement the ruinous competition of large numbers to be found among the unskilled workers. The question of sex competition appears once more, although in the commercial world the latter is apparently solving itself as in the lower industries. Men are giving way to women in certain lines, so that they are forming noncompeting groups. Again, in social and charitable work as in ed