It is a matter for regret that most women, upon leaving an industrial career for marriage, drop so completely out of touch with their former work. In the case of the untrained woman, who has received little and given little in her work, it is a matter of no moment; but when years have been given to skilled labor, it is economic waste to have the skill lost and the process forgotten. Many times the woman finds herself after a short life in the home obliged to earn a living once more for herself or it may be for a family. She returns to her teaching or her office work or a position in the library; but she is no longer, at least for a considerable time, the expert she once was. Why should not the former teacher keep up her interest in educational literature and the new ideas in what might have been her life work? Would it not be well for the one-time stenographer to keep a gentle hold upon the quirks and quirls which once brought to her her weekly salary? A young mother of my acquaintance who was a concert violinist of much ability has found no time for more than a year to practice, “since baby came,” and thousands of dollars spent in making her a player are being thrown away. To some this might seem the right thing. She has found “the home her sphere.” To others it seems a serious waste. We advocate often that the middle-aged woman who has reared her children should return in some way to the work of the world outside the home. In the case of the trained woman her training should be made of use in such return. She should, however, beware lest her tools are rusty from disuse.
We may not perhaps leave the questions involved in a discussion of vocations as they affect homemaking without noticing that certain occupations are considered especially dangerous to the moral stability of girls. Nursing, private secretaryship, and domestic service present dangers in direct proportion as they bring about isolated companionship for the girl and a male employer. Girls must not enter these employments without the knowledge of how to protect themselves from lowering influences.
THE GIRL’S WORK (Continued)—VOCATIONS DETERMINED BY TRAINING
The question of vocation choosing begins to make itself felt far down in the grammar school, first among the retarded and backward children who are old for their grades and are merely waiting and marking time until the law will allow them to leave school and go to work. These children are usually either mentally subnormal or handicapped by foreign birth and so unable to grasp the education which is being offered them.
As soon as they are released the girls go to the factory, to the store, or to help with some one’s baby or with the housework. No other places are open to them, and their possibilities in any place are few. They cannot rise because they are mentally untrained.