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Women Wage-Earners Their Past, Their Present, and Their Future   By: (1839-1918)

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WOMEN WAGE EARNERS:

THEIR PAST, THEIR PRESENT, AND THEIR FUTURE .

BY HELEN CAMPBELL,

AUTHOR OF "PRISONERS OF POVERTY," "PRISONERS OF POVERTY ABROAD," "THE PROBLEM OF THE POOR," "MRS. HERNDON'S INCOME," ETC.

With an Introduction BY RICHARD T. ELY, PH.D., LL.D.

Professor of Political Economy and Director of the School of Economics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.

BOSTON: ROBERTS BROTHERS. 1893.

Copyright, 1893 ,

BY HELEN CAMPBELL.

University Press:

JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE, U.S.A.

A BOOK FOR

Alice,

FRIEND, HELPER, AND COMRADE.

INTRODUCTION

BY RICHARD T. ELY,

DIRECTOR OF SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS, POLITICAL SCIENCE, AND HISTORY, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, MADISON.

The importance of the subject with which the present work deals cannot well be over estimated. Our age may properly be called the Era of Woman, because everything which affects her receives consideration quite unknown in past centuries. This is well. The motive is twofold: First, woman is valued as never before; and, second, it is perceived that the welfare of the other half of the human race depends more largely upon the position enjoyed by woman than was previously understood.

The earlier agitation for an enlarged sphere and greater rights for woman was to a considerable extent merely negative. The aim was to remove barriers and to open the way. It is characteristic of the earlier days of agitation for the removal of wrongs affecting any class, that the questions involved appear to be simple, and easily repeated formulas ample to secure desired rights. Further agitation, however, and more mature reflection always show that what looks like a simple social problem is a complex one.

"If women's wages are small, open new careers to them." As simple as this did the problem of women's wages once appear; but when new avenues of employment were rendered accessible to women, it was found, in some instances, that the wages of men were lowered. A consequence which can be seen in different industrial centres is that a man and a wife working together secure no greater wages than the man alone in industries in which women are not employed. Now, if the result of opening new employments to women is to force all members of the family to work for the wages which the head of the family alone once received, it is manifest that we have a complicated problem.

Another result of wage earning by women, which has been observed here and there, is the scattering of the members of the family and the break down of the home. A recent and careful observer among the chief industrial centres of Saxony, Germany, has told us that factory work has there resulted in the dissolution of the family, and that family life, as we understand it, scarcely exists. We have demoralization seen in the young; and in addition to that, we discover that the employment of married women outside the home results in the impaired health and strength of future generations.

The conclusion by no means follows that we should go backward, and try to restrict the industrial sphere of woman. It has been well said that revolutions do not go backward; we have to go farther forward to keep the advantages which have been attained, and at the same time lessen the evils which the new order has brought with it.

Further action is required; but in order that this action may bring desired results, it must be based upon ample knowledge. The natural impulse when we see an evil is to adopt direct methods looking to an immediate cure; but such direct methods which at once suggest themselves generally fail to bring relief. The effective remedies are those which use indirect methods based upon scientific knowledge. If a sympathetic man takes to heart physical suffering, which he can see on every side, he must feel inclined to relieve the distressed at once, and feel impatient if he is hindered in his benevolent impulses; yet we know that he will accomplish far more in the end, if he patiently devotes years to study in medical schools and practice in hospitals before he attempts to give relief to the diseased... Continue reading book >>




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