Even moderate success is denied to a boy if he has not adaptability and the capacity to grasp business ideas and methods; but a comparatively high degree of success could be attained by a girl who possessed neither of these qualifications. A boy, however, who has no specific training which he can apply directly and definitely at work would be far more likely to obtain a good opening and promotion than a girl without it would be.
The range of a boy’s possible future occupations is as wide as the field of business. He cannot at first be trained specifically as a girl can be because he does not know what business will do with him or what he wants to do with business. The girl’s choice is limited by custom. She can prepare herself definitely for stenography, bookkeeping, and machine operating and be sure that she is preparing for just the opportunity—and the whole opportunity—that business offers to her. Her very limitation of opportunity makes preliminary choice and training a definitely possible thing.
[Illustration: Diagram 1.—Boys and girls under 18 years of age in office work in Cleveland. Data from report of Ohio Industrial Commission, 1915]
The difference between boys and girls begins at the beginning. Boys are given a larger share of the positions which the youngest worker can fill. Diagram 1 illustrates this and the figures of the United States Census for 1910 clearly corroborate it. Boys are taken for such work and taken younger than girls, not merely because the law permits them to go to work at an earlier age, but also because business itself intends to round their training. Girls, on the contrary, are expected to enter completely trained for definite positions. This fact alone would in most cases compel them to be older. Furthermore, because boys in first positions are looked upon as potential clerks, miscellaneous jobs about the office have for them a two-fold value. They give the employer a chance to weed out unpromising material; and they give boys an opportunity to find themselves and to gather ideas about the business and methods which they may be able to make use of in later adjustments.