Knowledge of the girl must, however, be supplemented by a wide knowledge of vocations to be of real value to the teacher or parent who is preparing to give vocational counsel. Final choice may be reached only after the girl and the vocation are brought into comparative scrutiny, and their mutual fitness determined. In rare cases the choice may be made by the swift process of observing a great talent which, in the absence of serious objections, must govern the life work. Oftener the process is one of elimination, or of building up from a general foundation of the girl’s abilities and limitations, and her possibilities for training sufficient to make her an efficient worker in the line chosen.
A knowledge of vocations presupposes, first of all, a grasp of the essentials of the work, and hence the characteristics required in the worker to perform it. What sort of girl is needed to make an efficient teacher, nurse, saleswoman, or office worker? How may we recognize this potential teacher without resorting to a clumsy, time-wasting, trial-and-error method? These are matters with which schools and vocational guides all over the country are occupying themselves. Perhaps we cannot do better than to examine somewhat these requirements for some occupations toward which girls most often incline.
The girl who is by nature a maker of things may be a factory worker, a needlewoman, a baker, a poultry farmer, a milliner, a photographer, or an artist with brush or with voice, or in dramatic work. She is still one who makes things. We see at once how wide a range of industry may open to her.
How shall we know this type of girl? First of all, by her interest in things rather than in people. With the exception of, the singer and the dramatic artist, whose production is of an intangible sort, the girl who makes things is a handworker by choice. The extent to which her handwork is touched by the imaginative instinct of course measures the distance that she may make her way up the ladder of productive work. The girl’s school record will usually show her best work with concrete materials. She draws or sews well, has excellent results in the cooking class, works well in the laboratory. At home she finds enjoyment in “making things” of one sort or another. She displays ingenuity, perhaps, in meeting constructive problems. If so, that must be considered in finding her place.
Handwork for women includes a wide range of occupations. Let us now examine some of these kinds of work.
[Illustration: In the packing room of a wholesale house. The untrained girl finds it easy to obtain factory work]
Factory work. This term covers many departments of manufacturing industries. In the main, however, they may be classed together, since in practically all of them the worker contributes only one small portion of the work incidental to the making of candy, or artificial flowers, or coats, or pickles, or shoes, or corsets, or underwear, or anyone of a hundred different products, some one or several of which may be found in nearly every American town.