Imágenes de páginas

overworked and self-satisfied, and another woman underfed and morally callous.

Again, in times of financial depression the person with fixed income, salary, or wage reasons that he must spend less than usual because he sees those with fluctuating income refraining from many customary expenditures. Yet at these times it may be his duty to spend more than usual, as it may be that of his neighbor to spend less. The less we give in the form of conventional charity and the more we give in the form of opportunity for wholesome, self-respecting, well-paid, necessary work, the better it is for the community as well as for the individual and ourselves.

These situations that have been suggested are but a few illustrations of the extreme complexity that attends all questions connected with the expenditure of money. This is reflected in one proverb that, at least in part, still holds true “a fool can make money, but it needs a wise man to spend it.”

But these complicated problems are still further complicated by other social and domestic questions. The changes that have come in economic conditions have affected both men and women, but probably up to this time they have brought greater changes to women as a class than to men as a class. These changes have made idlers of one class of women who a hundred years ago would have had employment in their own homes; they have made wageearners of still another class who a hundred years ago would have had employment at home; they have made capitalists, business women, and professional women of still a third class; and they have profoundly affected the economic conditions of all those women who do not belong to any of these three classes. These changes mean that we must re-arrange and re-classify not only our economic but also our social ideas. Men are still for the most part those whose wages are paid in hard cash, who have a bank account and carry a check-book, and who therefore consider that they have the right to decide in regard to the way the money they earn shall be spent. This gives rise to divers anomalous conditions, many of them growing out of the family relationship. One of these is the willingness of men to pay large bills incurred by their wives and daughters, coupled with an unwillingness to trust them with the smallest amount of ready money. Young women in college may have the privilege of running up bills to almost any extent, and yet have barely ready money for street car fares. Husbands often give their wives no allowance on the plea that “women never know anything about spending money," while at the same time they are willing to pay all bills contracted by them. A recent book giving suggestions to women on how to make money states: “A business man is apt to refuse to have a dozen accounts at different stores for his wife to use as fancy dictates, and the majority of men prefer to audit the family accounts.”

The inevitable result of this distrust of women in money affairs is deceit and the resort to every device to circumvent the holder of the purse. Dressmakers and milliners are asked, and often offer, to send an excess bill and then give the wife or daughter the cash difference between the bill presented and the true bill. A so-called "novel shopping plan” has been invented by which a nominal purchasing agent allows her patrons to buy goods wherever she herself has an account, have the articles delivered at their homes, but charged to the purchasing agent. The bill rendered to the customer may include charges from a half dozen business houses, but the father of the family draws only one check. It is possible that the money skeletons in the closets of some nominally rich women may be as gruesome as are those in the closets of the nominally poor. The question asked yesterday by Colonel Higginson was, “Shall women learn the alphabet?” The question of today is, “Shall women have check-books?” In the possession of a check-book lies one antidote for the bargain counter and one means of awakening the social conscience.

But our difficulties as spenders do not end here, for inextricably bound up with the question of woman as a spender is that of woman as an earner. Many of the complications arising from this, also, grow out of the family relation. It is a somewhat current belief that a man supports his wife— "sports” her, may we say, as he sports a diamond stud or costly watch-fob. In accordance with this belief the New York City Board of Education voted July 8, 1908, to approve a charter amendment that "no married woman shall be permitted to teach unless her husband is incapacitated for work, or unless her husband has left her for at least one year.” To some, at least, such a policy seems to put a premium on desertion. Still another group of problems is presented in the case of a woman who gives up a $1500 position to marry a man earning $1200. What if the man, instead of the woman, should pay for the luxury of matrimony by giving up his position as a wage-earner? What of the woman who gives up a $1500 position to marry, and saves the wages of a household employee by doing her own housework? What of the economic cost to society of the woman who gives up a $1500 position to marry, and after marriage takes up as an occupation bridge whist and afternoon tea?

Another prevailing belief is that women of wealth who work for compensation are "taking the bread out of the mouths of the poor”-ignoring the fact that not only is this argument never raised to prevent rich men from receiving compensation for their services, but, on the contrary, the larger the earning capacity of the man the larger the income that he receives.

It is unnecessary to say in summing up the question of the economics of spending that these have been the words of a layman, not those of an economic expert. But many laymen as well as experts hope that some of the prevailing conditions in public life may soon be reflected in private life. On every side are found indications of an increasing sense of responsibility. Publicity is demanded in the management of civic affairs, of campaign expenses, of large business corporations. Bureaus of municipal research are looking into city expenditures and devising better methods based on investigation of present conditions. The National Congress has been asked to guarantee the publicity of party funds. Business firms are paying business experts $100 a day to examine into their methods of conducting their business-to find out whether they are paying a $50 a week man to do the work of a $5 a week beginner, and are intrusting grave responsibilities to persons of inferior judgment. In large business operations the effort is more and more directed towards fitting the round peg into the round hole.

These wide-spread demands for the study of public expenditure have as yet made little impression on private expenditure; but it is inevitable that the household and the individual shall follow in the wake. If at the bidding of a naturalist we gather grapes from thorns and figs from thistles, if at the bidding of the State the desert is made to blossom as the rose, is it unreasonable to hope that at the bidding of the university such far-reaching investigations may be undertaken as will enable the individual to be guided in his expenditures by the principles of harmony and proportion, to find the perfect equilibrium between the centripetal force of income and the centrifugal force of outgo—to achieve the economic circle. Whether the circle be large or small matters not.



General Secretary

The activities of the Association may be included under four main divisions:

1. Conference committees between club and college women, for the advancement of educational legislation.

2. Fellowships, including European, American, and the Alice Freeman Palmer Memorial.

3. Standards of membership for institutions; and

4. The Department of Educational Work of Women's Organizations, in the National Educational Association.

The first embraces conference committees in only eight states; their work, as known to many of us, and outlined in Miss Perkin's report annually, is so very effective that it makes us marvel that other states have not adopted the same methods of work. The chairman of Educational Legislation has accomplished much through the branches, but they have so many local interests she finds it difficult to fix attention on matters general. Clubs are so much larger in membership that the very force of numbers has great weight; therefore I should recommend strongly conference committees in every state, that the enthusiasm of the club women and the conservatism of the college women might join in the best practical results.

The report of the Central Conference Committee was presented to the Executive Committee last November on the part of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae; the General Federation report was not presented, and our committee was asked to continue its work.

As this was never printed I should like to quote two paragraphs which carry out my point:

The committee recommends that more college women, members of the Association, join local clubs and state federations, and thus share in the work of the General Federation. Also, that a club member be chosen in each college faculty of the A. C. A. to present the interests and nature of club work in the various states, and possibilities thus offered to A. C. A. women for work in their communities.

[ocr errors]

The civic work being done by club women in all parts of our country is being attended by excellent results. Civic work in its highest possibilities means so much in every community, and is so largely dependent for its ultimate effectiveness on intellectual sagacity, that this, in itself, invites the united work of college and club women in every community. Club women are organized, college women are trained. Trained organization can accomplish almost anything it undertakes.

The second division, Fellowships, is one great reason for our being—the influence toward advanced research work. We have found it possible to give only one European fellowship annually; and when we realize from the report of the chairman that it was, this past year for instance, only one out of fifteen applications, we beg your consideration of a membership of 35,000 instead of the real membership of 3500.

The actual expenses of the Association work might in such case be doubled, but the research work would be opened to fully ten times as many applicants.

The fellowships offered through the Woman's Education Association of Boston are open in America.

The Alice Freeman Palmer Fellowship is partly a memorial fund, partly given from the Association, and is open for study in Europe or America to one who is already a doctor of philosophy and will follow those high ideals of scholarship represented by her in whose name this memorial is given.

This is the only organization opening advanced research work to its members, and certainly gives us a feeling of pride in keeping in touch with the work.

The Naples Table Association is supported by twenty-one colleges and associations, giving $500.00 for the annual subscription for the Table, and $1000.00 for the prize offered by the Association, awarded for a thesis embodying new observations and new conclusions in many lines of problems.

The third activity of the Association I have chosen to name “Standards of Membership,” or the work of the Corporate Membership Committee.

There has been so much criticism of this committee from those interested in institutions not in membership, that my only wish is that every one might in turn serve on the committee; might see the careful, conservative, and yet liberal spirit of the members; might realize also the influence our action has had on other organizations needing just such a standard.

The general instruction, with which you all agree in theory, is

« AnteriorContinuar »