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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/862

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

CORRESPONDENCE.
 

WOMEN IN BUSINESS.

Editor Popular Science Monthly:

I NOTICE a communication, in your July number, from Mrs. L. D. Morgan, of Baltimore, and, as it is on a subject in which all women are more or less interested, I beg the kindness of space in your columns for a reply. Mrs. Morgan opens her letter with the assertion, referring to the Women's Parliament recently held in Washington, that "one point seems to have been clearly developed, viz., that women are no nearer the ballot-box than they were fifty years ago." Fifty years ago such a gathering of women from all parts of the world as was seen at the Women's Parliament would have been utterly impossible, and had such a state of things been predicted it would have been received with as much incredulity as a prediction of the electric light or the telephone. Not only does the fact that such a gathering is now possible demonstrate that women are nearer the ballot-box than they were fifty years ago, but there is another fact which Mrs. Morgan seems to have entirely overlooked or forgotten, which is that in some of the States and Territories women are not only nearer but have actually reached the ballot-box, and are voting on State and municipal questions.

In the next paragraph of her letter Mrs. Morgan says: "The ladies who are acting in behalf of their sex are decidedly hasty and incautious in demanding, without limitations, equal pay for equal work. At first sight, indeed, the proposition seems a fair one," etc. Wherein or how these ladies are hasty and incautious, or wherein or how the proposition differs in appearance at second sight from what it was at first, Mrs. Morgan fails to show. Men, competing with men, demand equal pay for equal work, and why the same demand can not logically be made by women competing with men I fail to see. A little further on Mrs. Morgan says: "That a woman can acquire the routine of almost any mercantile pursuit may be admitted beyond a doubt; in fact, the quickness of her mind and her rapid if superficial grasp of a subject will give her the advantage, in many branches, over her brother workers." I respectfully ask. What is the routine of mercantile pursuits? If there is any special part or division of mercantile pursuits to which the word routine can be applied to distinguish it from any other part or division, then Mrs. Morgan may be correct, and women may have business capacity superior to men; but, until that fact is established, I will adhere to my conviction, produced by a life of work with both business men and women, that women are in no respect superior to men. Despite of this pathetic description of "life as it is—the rough, every-day work of the world, where weakness means failure, strength success, where sentiment counts for nothing, and money is the paramount object"—I think Mrs. Morgan's knowledge of business life and business men is rather fanciful and theoretical than real. Is there not a contradiction between her assertion here that sentiment counts for nothing, and the one made a little further on in the same paragraph that "no man, who is worthy of the name, can quite bring himself to treat a woman clerk as he would a man, even in this ungallant age"? What but sentiment should prevent him from treating a woman clerk as he would a man?—the sentiment that women are made to be protected by men, and he will protect his, and those who have no protector must go unprotected. Had Mrs. Morgan's experience of business men been real instead of fanciful and theoretical, she would have known that "the employer who has expressed his disapprobation or impatience, without much regard to his p's and q's, would be much more dismayed to find he had insulted a male than he would to find he had insulted a female, as the male would in all probability resent the insult with a blow, to be followed, where the employer is anything of a politician, by his adverse ballot at the next election, while the female would have no resort except in the employer's sentiment, which, as Mrs. Morgan truly says, "counts for nothing." To discuss this part of the question, however, is mere waste of words, as the vast majority of business men, being gentlemen (a fact of which Mrs. Morgan does not seem to be aware), pay the strictest regard to their p's and q's in expressing impatience or disapprobation either to men or women.

For fear of infringing too much on your space, I will notice only one other point which Mrs. Morgan makes, on what she terms the "transitory nature of woman's work." She makes the old and oft-repeated but never proved assertion that women never remain long in any one business, for the reason that they marry, after which they retire to strictly domestic life. We have no statistics on this subject that I know of, but my personal experience goes to disprove this view of the matter. Five years ago I obtained work in an establishment where at the time were employed, besides myself, and in the same room, six men, two boys, and five women. Of these six men and two boys only one man remains, their places having in some instances been filled by men who are also gone, and have been succeeded by