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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/264

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

census of 1890, three hundred and sixty-nine groups of industrial work are enumerated, and in all but nine of these women are employed, the actual ratio of women workers to men being 1 to 4·4. The United States Commissioner of Labor writes: "A careful examination of the actual earnings of women discloses the fact that in many industries their average earnings equal or exceed the earnings of the men."

It may be difficult for those not conversant with manufacturing towns to realize that as far back as 1850 there were over two hundred and twenty-five thousand women engaged in factory work, or 27·30 per cent of the whole number of employees. Today, however, when women have swarmed into nearly all hives of labor, statistics are scarcely needed to prove that, whether "exempted" or not, they earn their livelihood in visible fashion. Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi asks the observer to "station himself on Broadway at six o'clock in the evening and watch the crowds pouring out of the retail stores, the binderies, printing establishments, and newspaper offices, or to visit the ring of ferries encircling the city, and analyze into their component sexes the vast throngs returning from work; or, at the station of some manufacturing town, see the operatives disembarking for the day, and after such inspection he will find it hard to believe that any women remain at home to sew, dust, sweep, or mind the babies. . . . To his imagination the women of leisure would disappear as completely as in the United States the men of leisure are wiped out of the national census."

This phase of the industrial evolution is unrecognized by our antisuffragist, and he depicts for us how a census-taker would find the sexes relatively employed—the man going to work and the women engaged at home in household supervision and social duties. He admits that now and then women teach, act as clerks, or do literary work, but these are exceptions.[1] "In the healthy normal society the true order seems to be that 'men must work and women must weep,' unless a cheerful temperament converts the weeping into a song." This, which might answer for a poetical view of the lives of the fisher-folk of whom it was written, was not typical of the general social condition even in Charles Kingsley's time. To-day it is not true of a respectable fraction. The number of women who live in absolute leisure is an insignificant item and is constantly diminishing.


  1. The percentage of women workers for the United States in 1880 was forty-nine. In 1890 the gain is stated to be ten per cent. The number of women employed in mechanical and manufacturing industries for 1890 was 505,712. They received as wages $139,329,719. There are 549,804 women in New York city over fifteen years of age. Those regularly employed number over 250,000.