Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/407

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THE INDUSTRIAL POSITION OF WOMEN.

tions from outside, instead of by domestic service. Thus domestic work will be reduced to the minimum, to that part most intimately connected with the personal life of the family. The need of domestic service will diminish in the same proportion, and the problem it presents will be solved by its diminution, or gradual disappearance; while domestic life will be more and more freed from the necessity of carrying on a variety of domestic work.

The obstacles to be overcome in bringing about this result do not differ in kind from those which are disappearing elsewhere before the ingenuity and perseverance of business enterprise. The difficulties in the way of supplying cooked instead of raw food are very similar to those being now overcome in the transport of delicate and perishable food, and in the preserving such food in perfection through the whole year. There is no reason why bakers should necessarily supply inferior bread, or why cooking done on a large scale should always be inferior to that done at home. That the work which remains to be so dealt with is the most difficult to be thus treated is the reason it has remained to the last. That our efforts in this direction are as yet attended by imperfect success is no proof that this will always be the case. Until business organization has advanced so far as to do the work as well as the same can be done at home, and more conveniently and cheaply, its imperfection will keep up our present system of domestic service.

It may be objected that so radical a change in the conditions of household work must imply the destruction of the home as we at present understand, it. But why should this be the result of the changes to come, any more than of the equally great changes that have been already accomplished? The dread of it arises from the same sort of feeling which has made it so difficult for geologists to accept the fact that the wonderful changes recorded upon the surface of the earth have been accomplished by the same agencies which are at work upon it to-day, so silently as to be imperceptible to the multitude.

It may be objected that the failure to marry is the reason so many women are seeking employment; and that, were marriage sufficiently universal, the immense majority of women would be occupied in their own homes. Facts do not seem to bear out this view. The proportion of persons who pass through life unmarried is comparatively small. The mass of working-women is composed not of middle-aged single women, to whom alone the criticism could refer that they have preferred other work to marriage. The great bulk is composed of young women under twenty-five, whose families can not afford to support them for the sake of their domestic work, and the majority of these will probably eventually marry. There is also a considerable number of married women who, by the death or inability of the husband, are thrown back upon the necessity of self-support. This last is a much larger class than is usually supposed. It would probably at least equal