The business world suffers from the presence in the ranks of its workers of thousands of hopelessly inefficient girls who have no aptitudes for business, or even for the minor detailed processes of commercial activity. They take no real interest in their work. They have no particular ambition for advancement. Their one motive for condescending to grace the office with their presence at all is to earn pin-money or, perhaps, to support themselves in some fashion until they marry. It is true that some of these girls might be taught to be reliable and efficient in their work if they could be persuaded to take an interest in it, to look upon it as something more potent and more important than a mere stop-gap. Many of them, no doubt, could be trained to earn salaries which would pay them to continue in business even after marriage.
Others of these girls are utterly unfitted for office work. Some of them would succeed very well as teachers, some as artists, and others as musicians. Like so many of their brothers, however, they have followed the line of least resistance—regardless of their aptitudes. Most of these girls belong in the home. They are quite justified in looking forward to matrimony as their true career. How much better if they would only earn the necessary pin-money in domestic service! From a monetary point of view, thirty dollars a month, with board, room, laundry, and many other necessities furnished, is a princely compensation compared with the five or eight dollars a week received by most girls in an office. From an economic point of view, the coming into our homes of thousands of intelligent, fairly well educated, trained, and ambitious young women would be a blessing and benefit. Socially, of course, the first young women who adopted such a radical change in custom would be pariahs. They would also, doubtless, suffer many hardships in the way of irregular hours, small, dark, stuffy rooms, unreasonable mistresses, no adequate place to entertain their friends, and other such injustices. But, with a higher and more intelligent class of household servants, doubtless these abuses would disappear.
We opened this chapter with the disavowal of any intention to advocate reform. We make this one exception. We most earnestly hope that such a reform may be consummated. At the same time, we have an uneasy suspicion that we are sighing for the moon.