Briefly summed up, then, the present disadvantages of housework compared with work in factories, stores, and offices, are as follows:
Enforced separation from one’s family.
Loss of personal freedom.
Lack of promotion.
Unlimited hours of work.
No day of rest each week.
Non-observance of legal holidays.
Loss of caste.
In the present comparison of housework with work in factories, stores, and offices, a recital of the advantages of domestic service, even under the present method of housekeeping, must not be omitted, for such advantages are important, although unfortunately they do not outweigh the present disadvantages.
To the woman whose home ties have been disrupted by death or discord, and to the newly arrived immigrant especially, housework is a great boon, inasmuch as besides good wages, all meals and a room to sleep in are given her. Moreover housework is the only form of labor where unskilled work can command high wages. This, however, is much more fortunate for the employee than for her employer.
Housework in itself is certainly not worse than any other kind of manual work in which women are engaged; it is often more interesting and less fatiguing. It also helps a woman more than any other occupation to prepare herself for her natural sphere of life:—that of the home maker. A girl who has spent several years in a well ordered family helping to do the housework, is far better fitted to run her own home intelligently and on economic lines than a girl who has spent the same number of years behind a counter, or working in a factory or an office.
Again, work in a private house is infinitely more desirable, from the point of view of the influence of one’s surroundings, than daily labor in a factory or store. The variety of domestic duties, the freedom of moving about from one room to another, of sitting or standing to do one’s work, are much to be preferred to the work that compels the worker to stand or sit in one place all day long.
If it be admitted, then, that housework is in itself a desirable and suitable occupation for women who must earn their living by manual labor, it can not be the work itself, but the conditions surrounding it that make it so distasteful to the modern working woman.
BUSINESS PRINCIPLES APPLIED TO HOUSEWORK
Living outside place of employment.
Housework limited to eight hours a day.
Housework limited to six days a week.
The observance of legal holidays.
Extra pay for overtime.
There are many housewives who are very much opposed to the adoption of a plan enabling household employees to live outside their place of employment. They claim that it is wiser to keep them under constant supervision day and night in order to prevent the introduction of disease or the acquisition of bad habits.