The Canadian Girl at Work
A BOOK OF VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE
Prepared at the Instance of the Minister of Education for Use in Ontario School Libraries
Printed by Order of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Printed and Published by A. T. Wilgress, Printer to the King's Most Excellent Majesty
Copyright, Canada, 1919, by the MINISTER OF EDUCATION FOR ONTARIO
The object of The Canadian Girl at Work is to assist girls in finding satisfactory employment. The further aim of showing them what constitutes a right attitude toward work and toward life through work, underlies the account of each occupation. The book is meant for girls, and for the assistance of fathers and mothers, of teachers, and of those who are interested in questions of training and employment.
The life of the average woman is divided, generally, into two periods of work, that of paid employment and that of home-making. No adequate scheme of training for girls can fail to take account of this fact. They should be equipped with knowledge and skill for home-making, and assisted in making the best use of their years in paid work. Happily, it appears from an investigation of the conditions affecting girls as wage-earners that the knowledge which helps them to be good home-makers is necessary to their well-being in paid employment. Technical training and skill are not more helpful to a girl at work than specialized knowledge in matters of food, clothing, health, and daily regimen. Lack of training in home-making is probably the greatest drawback which a girl in paid employment can have. Her business during her first years of paid employment may not require much skill or experience, but her living conditions require all the specialized woman's knowledge that training can give her.
To bring about in the life of a girl a satisfactory connection between paid employment and home-making, and to show the home employments in their rightful place as occupations of the first importance, are necessary objectives in any book of this character.
When considering the employments of to-day as part of their own lives, girls of the twentieth century may well look back through the long ages to women's work in the past. The study of anthropology appears to indicate that in primeval ages women began the textile industry and, possibly, agriculture. There seems to be no doubt that they were primitive architects, and that they tamed some of the smaller domestic animals. They had most to do with the preparation of food and may have introduced the use of herbs and medicines. They were spinners, weavers, upholsterers, and sail-makers. Most of these employments were taken up by men and specialized and developed almost past imagination. It is evident that women have always worked, and worked hard. If they had not done so, the race would not have reached its present position, and women themselves would have remained undeveloped, without a realization of their own possibilities.
The history of Anglo-Saxon times shows women engaged in spinning, weaving, dyeing, and embroidering, carrying on these industrial arts in the home, side by side with the work of the house. The work of women in home manufactures was a by-industry, not occupying the worker's whole time, but nevertheless an important occupation. Later, women were employed in many kinds of industrial work as assistants to their husbands and fathers. It is doubtful if wages were paid for such work. Employment of this kind is not to be thought of merely as a romantic or picturesque accompaniment of home life. Houses and comforts centuries back were not such as they are to-day; and the work of women was toil, side by side with men who toiled also.
The modern factory did not originate industrial work. The factory carried many industries away from the home where they had originated; and women followed their work to large establishments where they were trained to work collectively. The statement can be made with truth that machinery has made it possible for women to perform work for which their strength would otherwise have been insufficient. Through the industrial revolution brought about by factory work, the general body of women workers became wage-earners, rather than unpaid workers who contributed to the financial earnings of their fathers and husbands.
In Canada, the process of development of women's work in the past fifty years has been rapid. The grandmothers of the women of this generation carded wool and used spinning wheels within the memory of workers of less than middle age. One old woman who died not many years ago told how she used to bake in an oven out-of-doors and had dyed homespun with butternut. The soap cauldron stood on the levelled stump of what had been once a forest tree. Candles were moulded in iron moulds. Household industries were carried on expertly in the homes of pioneers by the women of the family.
When these days had gone, there followed other days in which the children of the pioneers devoted themselves to the schooling so highly esteemed but rarely enjoyed by their parents. The boys, after school life, turned to business, railway employments, teaching, banking, farming, became ministers, lawyers, doctors, or gave their thoughts to politics. The girls taught school, were milliners or dressmakers, went into shops, or became the wives of nation builders in every walk of life. A few were nurses, journalists, doctors, or missionaries.
The work of that generation has been followed by a century in which Canadian girls are invited to share in nearly every form of activity. This great freedom with its many opportunities has come for noble ends. What the girls of to-day must strive to do is to take up their work with a vision of what it may be made to mean—men and women in co-partnership laying the foundations of a new earth.
It is probable that the social and domestic conditions of the earliest workers were far below those of the average worker of to-day. But, although present conditions are better than those of the past, the process of amelioration should be greatly advanced by this generation. The increasing opportunities of girls, both in home-making and paid employment, are likely to become a contributing factor in the humanizing of every form of industry. We have learned to realize the possibilities of machinery. What we must do now is to imagine and realize the possibilities of the individual worker. This can be done only through study, experience, and actual work in industrial occupations which offer employment to women.
The woman of the home has work of unrivalled value. She has to study new standards of living, to help to control the food supply, to improve the health of children, and to lower the rate of infant mortality. A standard of living in each community might be tabulated by women home-makers. Such information should be available in each locality and should be accessible to all classes in the community. How are workers—girls, boys, men, or women—to know on what sums individuals and families can live and maintain health and efficiency in one district or another, if these matters are not studied, determined, and published for their use?
[Footnote 1: Acknowledgment is made to Miss B. L. Hutchins' Women in Modern Industry. G. Bell & Sons].
I. Thinking About Work 1
II. The Girl Who Works in a Factory 4
III. The Saleswoman 9
IV. The Girl at Work in an Office 15
V. Learning After the Position is Found 20
VI. What Every Girl Needs to Know 24
VII. The House Worker. Domestic Science 28
VIII. The Teacher 33
IX. The Work of a Nurse 39
X. Dressmakers and Seamstresses 45
XI. The Milliner 50
XII. Making One's Own Clothes. Home Millinery 53
XIII. Telephone and Telegraph Girls 56
XIV. Hairdresser and Manicurist. Waitress 61
XV. Farm Work for Women 65
XVI. The Librarian 71
XVII. Work for the Girl at Home 76
XVIII. The Home Employments 82
XIX. Journalism. Writing. Advertising. Art. Handicrafts. Designing. Photography. Architecture. Landscape Gardening. House Decorating and Furnishing. Music. Acting. Dancing 88
XX. Banking. Law. Medicine. Dentistry. Pharmacy. Chemical Industry. Civil Service. Social Work 94
XXI. Going into Business for One's Self 99
XXII. New Work for Women 102
XXIII. Money and Wages 107
XXIV. Spending. Saving. Investing 112
XXV. Health 116
XXVI. A Girl's Reading 121
XXVII. Necessary Work 126
XXVIII. What One Girl Can Do for Another 129
XXIX. Civic Duties and Responsibilities 133
XXX. The Best Kind of Work 138
List of Occupations 141
THE CANADIAN GIRL AT WORK
THINKING ABOUT WORK
Thinking about work is the beginning of one of the happiest and most useful of our experiences. Through work there comes to us the pleasure of a growing knowledge of the great world and its wonders, the delight of intercourse with other people, and the happiness of friendship with our fellow-workers. Work well done is a doorway to whatever good things we most desire. Best of all, perhaps, to the girl who is earning her living, is the satisfaction of feeling that she is a useful citizen, doing her part in the development of Canada.
Canadian girls have a wide field from which to choose their particular form of occupation. To choose wisely is a duty we owe to ourselves and to our country—to ourselves, because a wise choice helps to secure our happiness in work; to our country, because she has a right to the best we can offer her in return for the peace and freedom in which we live under her laws.
Every year new varieties of employment and new positions in old employments are being added to the field of work for girls and women. Work at home is being systematized, and new devices are increasing the efficiency of the work of a home. Among the girls who are beginning work to-day are some who will develop further the management of the home on modern economic and social lines. Forward-thinking people anticipate a great advance which will be made by the girls of the twentieth century in the management of homes.
But what of the workers outside the home? Opportunities of employment are steadily increasing. Already women are making a business of growing vegetables and flowers, are engaged in the work of poultry farms, bee-keeping, and in dairy production. Women are undertaking the work of chemical experts in factories. Girls are driving motors and collecting waste. They are shopping experts, employment experts, house furnishers, agents for renting houses, and one woman has become an expert in testing flour for a great milling industry. These are new employments. Hundreds of thousands of girls and women are at work in the long-established women's employments, as factory workers, saleswomen, stenographers, house workers, telephone and telegraph operators, waitresses, milliners, dressmakers and seamstresses, teachers, and nurses.
Some opportunities for employment are close at hand; others are farther away. Sometimes it is best to begin with the nearest work. But in any case the girl should take time to think of her employment. There are various helpers to whom she may turn when she is beginning to think about work—her father and mother, her teachers, the Government Employment Bureau, a good private employment expert such as may be found in the Young Women's Christian Association, or an older friend who is able to advise her and, finally, the girl should help herself. She should think carefully of the kind of work it seems likely that she may get to do and ask herself what employment she finds most attractive and whether she has some aptitude for it.
The following are some of the questions a girl should ask herself when she is thinking of her employment: Shall I be able to improve and become more skilful in my work? Will the work give me good companionship? Are the surroundings clean and comfortable, and will they be good for my health and the health of other workers? Is the employment likely to give me a fair wage?
The statements made about wages in different employments apply generally to the scale of wages paid in one particular city. No one set of figures can be given which will state accurately the wages in many cities and towns and country districts. The value of wages cannot be estimated properly by the girl unless she knows at the same time what her living expenses are to be. She must know, too, the standard of efficiency required in the employment. These questions are discussed specially in Chapters XXIII and XXIV. When the girl reads any statement concerning wages, she should remember that the figures given represent only an approximate estimate. That is, while these wages have actually been paid in one place, the same wages will not be offered in these employments in every part of the country. Generally speaking, the figures quoted represent mid-war wages.
The most important fact for the girl to learn about employment is that when she does well-chosen work in the right spirit, she will find in it happiness and usefulness. Through her work she will learn what an interesting place the world is, and because she is a worker she will be the companion of great workers who are advancing civilization every day. She may feel sure that there is work for her to do, that she will find work good, and the world a friendly place.
THE GIRL WHO WORKS IN A FACTORY
A girl's first impression of a factory is likely to be that it is a busy place. The people at work and the work itself will seem strange to her. She may even feel that she will never get used to her new surroundings. But she should not allow herself to be discouraged. Although she may have forgotten her first day in school when she was a little girl of five or six, no doubt the schoolroom seemed to her then a very strange place, but how quickly it became familiar and homelike.
The girl will enter the factory as a learner. Her wages will not be high, but she will be paid for her first week, although it is hardly likely that her work at first will be worth the money she receives for it. One of the more experienced factory employees will be given the task of training her. So the girl beginning work in a factory is really learning as she did at school although now she is getting wages. The factory finds it worth while to train beginners, and it does so in the hope that they will become capable operators who will be in their places regularly.
One of the most important truths for the girl in the factory to realize is that the more there is to learn about her work the better her future will be as a worker. If there is so little to learn that she needs only a few days to become independent of any training, then she will be sure to find unskilled girls and low wages in this place of employment. She should not be satisfied permanently with such work. The best positions are for skilled employees and, therefore, every girl ought to become a skilled worker. To be a skilled worker means that you can command good wages and that you are more certain of steady employment than an unskilled employee, since your employer will wish to retain your services even when the work in the factory is slack. The girl, therefore, should not be anxious to find that there is little to learn about her work. When she discovers that it will be some time before she can carry on all the operations required, then she may be sure that she is learning an employment which will be of value to her. It is exactly the same as in school. No one was ever so clever as to be able to learn to read in one day, yet we all know how well worth while it is to be able to read.
How is the girl to choose the industry in which she hopes to find work? She should make inquiries about a factory before she enters it. She may have a friend who is working in a whitewear factory, or a biscuit factory, or who is making boxes. The friend probably will be willing to speak to the foreman or forewoman about the girl's employment. But she should notice the surroundings in which she means to work. Is the workroom light and airy? Are the conditions under which she must work sanitary? Are the workers respectable and well-behaved? If she is to work where there is machinery, it should be properly guarded, so that she will not be in danger. She should not choose a factory where the hours are longer than the average nor one where over-time is encouraged. The management also should be fair and considerate.
The kind of work carried on in the factory should give her an opportunity to become a skilled worker. If the girls employed are all young girls earning only a low wage, and there is little chance of promotion, then, while it may be convenient for her to begin in such a factory, she should not be content to stay there. She must be sure to make herself a skilled worker, with a good chance of promotion and a fair certainty of receiving a higher wage than is usually paid to a beginner.
When the girl knows the kind of factory for which she ought to look, she may very well ask herself what qualifications she should possess in order to become a successful factory worker. She should be healthy, of good average physical strength, quick in her movements, with some natural mechanical ability, good eyesight, and quick, steady hands. If she is to begin where there is power machinery, it is an advantage to have had some practice in running power machinery. Such practice she can get at a trade or a technical school, most of which have night classes. Otherwise there is not very much that a girl can learn about the actual work of a factory before she enters it. She must make up her mind, however, to learn when once she is in the factory. She should learn as many different operations as possible. Nothing so increases the value of a worker as to be able to fill a number of different positions. She should try to understand as much of the business of the establishment as possible. Then she will find herself taking a keen interest in the work and she will be better able to enjoy her own part in it.
The girl's first wage in a factory is not likely to be large enough to cover all her expenses. But, when she is a skilled worker, her wage should provide her with reasonable necessaries and comfort and leave a margin for saving, emergencies, and improvement. Every worker should realize that good conditions are an important part of what one gets for one's work. It is advisable to be satisfied with a little less money in an establishment where opportunity is given for promotion, the guarding of health, and recreation, and where the surroundings are clean and attractive, sometimes even delightful, rather than to get a little more money, and be driven beyond one's strength, or compelled to spend a great part of the day in unpleasant surroundings. Lunch and rest rooms, a separate locker for her clothes, books to read, an open tennis court or other opportunity for play, are greatly valued by the girl at work, as they constitute, in reality, a bonus in addition to her wages.
As soon as she is experienced, the girl in the factory is almost certain to find herself on "piece-work." That is, instead of being paid a daily or weekly wage, she will receive a set price for each article or "piece" completed.
Speed in piece-work as a rule is a means by which she can earn high wages. The wages of a beginner in a city may be eight or nine dollars a week; wages vary, however, according to the locality and the character of the work. The wages paid to experienced operators vary in a number of cases from fifteen to twenty dollars a week. Exceptional workers who have special ability earn more. With regard to piece-work, the girl should have sufficient judgment not to force herself beyond her strength. She may lose her health by a few years' overwork and become unable to support herself. The speed of the worker is a subject for careful study both by the girl and her employer. The girl will find that she can maintain high speed for a certain length of time only and that her output actually will be greater, week in and week out, if she slackens when she begins to feel a strain.
The most successful girl will not change about readily from one place to another. If a girl is certain that she can improve her work and her position, and if she has come to a careful decision, feeling sure that her present conditions are not what they might be, then she will be wise to change her place of employment. But the young girl who changes every few weeks or months is in danger of spoiling not only her prospects as a paid worker, but her whole life. While this danger is found in other employments, it is perhaps greatest in the case of the factory worker.
"Some of the finest people I know," said a well-known factory owner not long ago, "are at work in our factories." This may be said as truly all over the country. It applies equally to men and women workers. Generous, unselfish, efficient women and girls, as are many of these workers, are a source of strength to their families and the country. They are using their lives wisely and well, whether they continue as paid workers or leave the factory to take charge of the care of a home.
[Footnote 2: To write down even the names of the industries which are carried on in factories with the help of girls and women would occupy much space. A few of the more important places of industry in which girls are employed are whitewear factories and other factories which have to do with the making of clothes, factories where food is prepared for household use, twine factories, paper-box establishments, cigar and tobacco factories, bookbinding establishments, brush-making factories, manufactories of leather, carpets and rugs, boots and shoes and buttons, cotton and woolen-mills, and knitting mills. These are only a few of the factory employments, but the list shows how necessary the work of girls and women is to the nation's industry.]
The employment department of a big store is the testing place through which many girls who mean to be saleswomen must pass before they reach the store itself. Naturally the girl should be careful to do herself justice when she goes to the employment department. The head of the department will be certain to note her appearance carefully. The girl should make sure that she is cleanly and neatly dressed; she should speak quietly and politely; and she should show that sincere willingness to be cheerful, obliging, and agreeable which she will find one of the best aids in her life both at work and at home. To enter a store no particular training is required. The girl leaving school when she is fourteen, fifteen, or sixteen, who is able to read and write correctly and who has a thorough knowledge of the common rules of arithmetic can hope to obtain a position in a store.
Having once obtained a position in a large store, the girl will find herself part of an establishment where perhaps hundreds or thousands of people are employed. It is probable that her position will be an easy one suited to her age, without much responsibility, and with small pay, but, if she shows interest and willingness to learn, she will be in line for promotion. There are many positions which carry with them great responsibility, and correspondingly large wages. A girl's chance to occupy some day such a position depends largely on herself. She should try to understand as much as possible about the store and its methods and rules, and she should make her work part of the successful work of the establishment.
In a large store the younger girls are employed as messenger girls, parcel girls, markers, or, after some time in a store, a younger girl may help in the care of the stock. The payment received in these positions is small. Indeed, the problem of the youngest girls in the store is not an easy one. The girl herself should try to realize that this big store in which she is employed must be to her what the high school or college is to other girls who stayed at school when she went to work. Here, in the store, she should continue her education, which is to take the practical form of a business training.
Unfortunately, some of the girls thus employed are indifferent to their work. These are the inattentive, listless girls who look about them idly, instead of attending to the needs of possible customers, or who spend more than half the time talking to their friends visiting the store or to their fellow-workers. One large establishment reports that only one third of their staff become skilled in salesmanship. Another famous firm of employers says that twenty-five per cent. of their girls do not improve, another twenty-five per cent. are only fairly satisfactory, while fifty per cent. are satisfactory. The girl who enters the employment of a store should determine to become a skilled saleswoman.
Fortunately, the work of the saleswoman is steadily rising in its standing as a good occupation. It is becoming skilled employment. Already there are a number of schools which teach salesmanship, and many of the larger departmental stores have courses of instruction for their salespeople. The managers of these stores say that this training pays both the store and its staff of employees. After training the employees make better wages and the store earns a higher percentage. Any girl who wants to be a saleswoman should, if possible, take a course in salesmanship either at a business college, a trade school, or at a Young Women's Christian Association, or she should try to find a position in a store where there is a school for employees.
Our young saleswoman will study her store, she will take lessons in salesmanship, she will be interested in her work and eager to learn. Such a girl will find that the place of her employment is a world in miniature, where she can study life and human nature and where she may become a useful and well-equipped member of society. No girl who is a good saleswoman can fail to learn how to deal with many different kinds of people and to have many opportunities of making friends among her fellow-workers.
It is not difficult for the average girl to become an efficient saleswoman. To recapitulate—she should be neat and pleasing in appearance, quick to learn, willing to obey, with good manners and bright intelligence, and she should be interested in her work. She should have a "head for figures," a knowledge of correct English, and ability to work quickly and courteously at the same time. She should, of course, have a thorough knowledge of the commodity she is selling. The more accurate her knowledge of materials, the better saleswoman she will make. She should also take a personal interest in the wants of her customers. Her object is to sell articles which will give satisfaction.
The average earnings of saleswomen at times seem disappointingly small. It should be remembered, however, that the indifferent or careless girl lowers the average. The successful saleswoman, after some years of work, may earn from fifteen to twenty dollars a week. A great many girls earn less. The beginner may get five or six dollars a week or, if she is in an establishment which pays no employee less than a certain amount, she may get seven or eight dollars. The girl who earns less than eight dollars a week after a year or two years is not a successful saleswoman and is not likely to be kept on in any well-managed store. The saleswoman who is dissatisfied with her wage may ask at any time to have reference made to her actual sales, of which an account is kept. Wages are based on sales. Sometimes a commission is paid on sales over a certain amount. In any case, the girl feels that there is a direct connection between her successful salesmanship and her wages. Character, skill, tact, and energy are all required for successful salesmanship. The saleswoman who really gives herself to the work of serving and satisfying her customers finds her employment an exacting one.
A saleswoman may be promoted to have charge of stock; she may become assistant buyer or head of a department; and in somewhat rare cases she may become a buyer. These are all responsible positions requiring unusual business ability and character. The salaries are high. If a saleswoman has excellent business ability, she may, after years of experience, become an important influence in the management of the store. Some departments offer greater opportunities than others. The more expensive the article to be sold, the more is required from the saleswoman. A very young girl will not be found selling coats and cloaks or expensive suits and dresses. "The customer who is spending a large amount of money wants to have confidence in the judgment of the saleswoman," is the saying of an expert in store management.
The large department store, while it affords training and opportunity to the girl who intends to become a competent saleswoman, employs many girls and women in occupations other than salesmanship. In the store there is a large clerical staff, including stenographers, who may receive promotion to the position of private secretaries and bookkeepers. Telephone and telegraph operators are among the employees. The store shoppers act in connection with mail orders and orders received by telephone. The advertising department employs writers, artists, proof-readers, and card and sign writers. Milliners are employed in the millinery department and fitters and dressmakers in the alteration departments. Manicurists and hair-dressers carry on their special occupations, and waitresses are employed in the store lunchroom or restaurant. Trained nurses have positions in the store hospital and visit employees in their homes. Machine and handworkers carry out special orders in making curtains, cushions, lampshades, etc. A store school employs teachers of salesmanship and store system.
Many girls are employed as saleswomen in smaller stores which need only a few employees. The system of the great store is not so necessary in a small establishment, yet the individual saleswoman in the small store holds a responsible position. Sometimes a girl with business ability becomes in time assistant manager, or even part owner, of such a store. Ideas and initiative will tell wherever they are found, and the girl who is really interested in salesmanship will succeed in a large store or in a small one.
The hours are fairly long, sometimes longer than the average in women's occupations, but they are no longer than the hours required in many professional and other employments in which women are engaged.
The well-advised saleswoman will have interests outside of her work. She should study some interesting branch of knowledge and cultivate a hobby. She will find both pleasure and benefit in belonging to a club or other association. One of the most interesting developments in the large business establishment where numbers of men and women are employed is the organization for comradeship and improvement. Thrift is encouraged; opportunities are provided for exercise; sometimes those on the staff of such an establishment are offered housing of an attractive kind at moderate prices. The girls of the establishment may be provided with a club house.
Altogether, the character of this employment is complex and interesting. It is an attractive occupation, in which the girl is brought into relationship with people with whom she can help to develop a sociable, co-operative life, tending to improve her own character and usefulness and that of others.
THE GIRL AT WORK IN AN OFFICE
The girl who hopes to succeed in office work should be able to spell correctly and should have a good general English education. It is true that some girls have taught themselves to spell correctly after they have entered business offices; and ambitious, sensible girls, who find that letters dictated to them contain words the meaning of which they do not know, study until their vocabularies are greatly enlarged and improved. But, while they are learning, the employer is not receiving the service to which he is entitled.
The only practical way for the average girl to enter a business office is by studying stenography. But to have a really satisfactory school training, the girl who means to be a stenographer should be ready to pass the entrance examination into a college or university. Three or four years' attendance at a high or secondary school is a necessary preparation for first-class office work. The girl who is a college graduate is not too well equipped to be a stenographer. Even if a girl is compelled, by the necessity of earning her living, to begin office work early, still she can, by determination, courage, and hard work, equip herself with a good business education. But it is only the exceptional girl who can do this. The girl who wishes to engage in office work should have three years, if possible, in a good secondary school, before she enters a business college.
The business college should be chosen carefully, and the girl in training should attend the classes for nine months or a year. This is the least time required for satisfactory training. Unfortunately, too many students take only six months, or even three, at a business school. The result is that they begin work only partly equipped with training for the office. Many employers complain that stenographers are incompetent and careless. One reason for this is that they have not had sufficient training; their stenography, typewriting, and other instruction have been only half mastered. Office work would be a better employment for girls if these half-trained and incompetent workers were not lowering wages, irritating employers, and limiting the work and responsibility with which girls would be entrusted if the average stenographer knew her work thoroughly.
The girl who leaves a business college to enter an office should not feel that there is nothing more to learn. No one can be a thoroughly competent stenographer until she has been a year at work in an office. The school teaches her how to handle her working tools. But the real problems of office work are solved only in the office. There are endless details to be mastered. Every office has its own rules and customs and its own methods. It is necessary to learn how to meet people and deal with them. The girl must study the people with whom she works. She must learn how her employer likes to have his work done. The best workers keep on learning year by year.
Many of the qualities which go to make the ideal home-maker belong to the ideal worker in an office. The business girl will need self-control and tact. Her manners should be quiet and agreeable. An office is a place for work; and part of the usefulness of a business girl is in helping to make it a good place in which to work. She should therefore understand order and method. She should be tranquil and well poised. She should get her work done quickly without seeming to be in a hurry. Such a girl is a treasure in an office.
The business girl should be dressed suitably for her occupation. One of the first lessons for her to learn is that no employer is likely to believe that she can do good work if her general appearance is careless or untidy. Her dress should be quiet and pleasing, and it should not distract her attention from her work. A workmanlike dress can be very attractive. Business girls as a rule show taste and judgment in choosing their clothes and in keeping every detail of their appearance neat, suitable, and pleasing. Thrift in the matter of dressing and a suitable appearance are necessary factors in the success of a business girl's work.
The business girl must be trustworthy. She cannot be a success if her employer is in doubt as to whether she may talk about office business outside. Her memory should be good. It is a great help to have someone at hand who can remember a business conversation, where to find documents, addresses, and other memoranda. The girl will find that it is unsatisfactory to spend much time in social conversation. If she wishes to earn and keep the good opinion of her fellow-workers and her employer, she will attend to work, with only an occasional remark on anything not connected with office affairs.
The salaries earned by business girls vary greatly. There are girls at work in offices who are paid as little as five, six, or seven dollars a week. But these girls are very young, they are badly trained, unable to do good work of any kind, and they should hardly be called stenographers. They can address envelopes, do a little typewriting, answer the telephone, and so on. The well-equipped office girl should realize that she must keep up the standard of her employment, as one which needs thorough training and competent, well paid workers, so the work of the girl in business may remain a highly-respected and desirable occupation.
The supply of first-class office workers is never sufficient to meet the demand. A common wage for younger competent stenographers who have had some experience is twelve dollars. Experienced stenographers may get fifteen, eighteen, twenty, or twenty-five dollars, according to the positions they occupy, the character of the work, and the responsibility involved. Girls with managing ability may be promoted to hold important positions. They may become assistant managers of offices or confidential clerks or secretaries. Women in these positions receive salaries of from two to three thousand dollars a year. In an exceptional case a woman who is a manager may receive four or five thousand. But such positions and such women workers are rare indeed. Eighteen dollars a week is regarded as a good salary for a capable stenographer of some years' experience. The average stenographer receives as a rule two weeks' holidays with wages. This is an important consideration for it helps to secure her health and general well-being.
It is often said that a small office offers the best opportunity for a clever girl to win promotion. She is given work of all kinds to do and can make herself indispensable to her employer. On the other hand, the work may be easier in a large office since it is organized on well-established lines. Salaries, generally speaking, are higher in large offices, but there are fewer opportunities for promotion.
An unusually competent office girl with some capital may become a public stenographer. But, in order to succeed, she must have business ability and should understand clearly what she can afford and what she cannot afford in office equipment, rent, and so on. The work of a public stenographer is very exacting. Many stenographers are employed in the service of the Government. In general, an examination is required for a position in the civil service. The work and hours are regular and not exacting, and the pay is good. Many girls, however, find work in a business office more interesting, and opportunities for promotion are also better.
Some girls who have not the ability to become expert stenographers, may be exceptionally good typists. Such girls may find employment in typing letters from phonographs or dictaphones. Work with multigraphs, adding-machines, or comptometers is required in larger offices. Special positions may be obtained by girls who are of a mechanical turn or who have considerable manual dexterity. The girl who devotes herself to bookkeeping, if she has special ability, may occupy an important business position.
In whatever capacity she may be employed, the earnest and competent office-worker will find herself highly valued and well paid for her share of responsibility in the world of financial and commercial development.
LEARNING AFTER THE POSITION IS FOUND
The first few days, sometimes even the first few weeks, are often a little difficult for the girl who has found a position and goes to work for the first time. But she can take with her a few simple resolutions which will make most of her difficulties disappear and which may even change them into helps rather than hindrances. She can remember that all the responsible people she knows have had these same difficulties and have overcome them. This thought will encourage her to believe that what others have done she can do also. There is much that she may gain from this new position. It is like an open door whereby she may enter a new world.
The girl who is in her first position will find that she must adjust herself to conditions very different from those of home and school life. At home all her personal concerns have been of supreme importance, and she has been the object of unceasing love and care. At school her best interests have still been consulted, and she has been taught how both to work and play. She now begins to give back value for the care which has been taken of her at home and the teaching which she has received at school. After she is able to work for herself, it is really no one else's duty to support her. She cannot expect that busy people in the office or workroom will stop to listen to her. If she is feeling dull or discouraged, or if something has gone wrong in her private affairs, these things have nothing to do with her fellow-workers. They also have their private affairs. Therefore she must learn to be cheerful, not to talk about her own troubles, and to be, in brief, a grown-up, sensible, considerate person.
Two illustrations may help the girl to understand this difference between life in paid employment and school days or life at home. A girl once was offered a position in a large establishment by the man who was the head of the business. She had certain training and gifts which made him believe that she could do good work in his business. After her appointment she found that she was under the direction of the manager's chief of staff, who, as she soon discovered, had wanted someone else. She began to think out the position in which she found herself. "It is quite plain," she said to herself, "that the chief is a more important person than I am. He is not going to lose his position because he does not like me. It would not be just or right or good business if he did. The truth is that if I do not get on with him and convince him that I can do good work I am going to be a failure. It is part of my business to get on with the chief of staff." She had made the important discovery that it is wise to put oneself in the background and to work harmoniously with one's associates. After a year's hard work she had the satisfaction of being told by her chief, that, notwithstanding his early dissatisfaction with her appointment, she had won his approval, for she had convinced him of her efficiency.
The other illustration can be given in a few words, but it teaches a truth about paid employment which many girls need to learn. One day a woman called to see an important public man on a matter of business. When she came he was dictating a letter. He saw his caller as soon as he had finished. Before the conversation had well begun, his secretary came to the door and asked him to what address he wished the letter sent. When the secretary had gone out again, the man looked at his visitor and said laughing, yet with an expression of annoyance, "I cannot teach my secretary that it is her work to look up addresses. She is here to save me trouble. I am not here to save her trouble. But I cannot get her to understand that." The girl in question was behaving in her work as if she had been a spoiled child at home. It is to be hoped that she would have been ashamed to ask her mother, for instance, to tell her an address which she could look up for herself. Yet this girl was being paid to find addresses as part of her work.
The girl who is beginning paid employment will have to learn largely from others how her work ought to be done, but she must learn to depend on her own observation. Questions must be asked occasionally, but it is unwise to ask too many. Ask information only from those who are willing to answer. Everyone in the world of work is busy as a rule, and comparatively few people will stop their work to explain to someone else how a task ought to be done. There are two classes of workers—those who require direction always, and those who are able and willing to take responsibility. The girl at first begins under direction but, as soon as she is familiar with what she has to do and understands a good deal of the purpose of her work, she should try, if possible, to develop responsibility. It is a good plan to study how other people do their work. There is sure to be someone among one's fellow-employees who is a specially good worker. Study the methods and character of this worker and learn from your observation how to do your own work. The girl in a new position should resolutely avoid association with lazy, indifferent, and idle fellow-employees. One of the first lessons for her to learn, and sometimes one of the hardest, is that her time is not her own. It belongs to her employer, who is paying for her work. Therefore her own social engagements have no claim on her working hours.
It is apparent that certain qualifications and characteristics ensure success in paid work—good temper, self-control, common sense, kindness, and a sense of what is fair are of inestimable value to the girl worker. Moreover, she must be in earnest in her determination to find work and keep it. She should have some secondary employment at which she can work if her regular employment is slack. And through all the changes and difficulties of her working life, a girl should know how to keep well, for health is a great asset.
She should add to these essentials a feeling of responsibility and a desire to understand the problems of management in the business in which she is employed. In addition, let her have that sense of honour which will keep her from a betrayal of confidential information. The loyal worker is always valued and respected.
WHAT EVERY GIRL NEEDS TO KNOW
The world the girl has to live in is the everyday world we know. Some people say that the world is commonplace, and so it is if we look at it from one point of view. But the truth is that the commonplace and the wonderful are so closely joined together that it is impossible to separate them. The girl needs commonplace gifts to live in the world, or she will not prosper. She needs also to be able to see and understand the wonderful side of life. To appreciate both the commonplace and the wonderful should be part of her endeavour. A great deal depends on her training. What shall we choose for her? She may work at home or in paid employment, but she needs certain training, because she is a girl, just as a soldier needs training, because he is a soldier.
First, the girl ought to know how to keep well. Good health is a precious possession, and we may have a great deal to do with whether we are strong and healthy or weak and half-ill most of the time. If the girl is to be a home-maker, she needs good health. What a sad place a home is if the home-maker is a constant sufferer! If the girl is in a shop, a factory, an office, a telephone exchange, a school, or a hospital, unless she is a reasonably healthy girl her success in her work is greatly lessened, if indeed it is possible for her to succeed at all. If she is an actress or an artist, she undergoes a constant strain on her nervous energy. Artists and actresses need good health, possibly more so even than the average woman in paid employment. So, no matter what the girl is to do, she should be healthy.
But she requires certain definite kinds of knowledge, so that she may know how to keep well. The first is knowing what to eat. There is scarcely anything that interferes more with the health and success of the girl worker than ignorance of what is nutritious food. A woman who is very fond of girls who work and who knows hundreds of them, said once that she would like to give every girl she knew this knowledge about food. There is no way of acquiring it except by learning. Our ideal girl will learn food values and how food should be prepared. Every girl in the world, no matter who she is, is better off for this knowledge. It is part of the foundation of good health. The girl in business requires a special warning to be sure that her luncheon gives her sufficient nourishment for her work.
In order to be healthy, girls must know, also, how to dress. This should include some knowledge of the making of clothing, how to cut out, and how to sew, and also some skill in mending and re-modelling. Looking into the future for the well-being of our ideal girl, we see that her appearance as well as her health depends not a little on her skill as a wise buyer and maker of clothing. Her early income as a worker is not likely to be large. It may be very small. It will need all her skill to make the best use of this income.
In order to acquire skill in the management of food and clothing and so ensure her health, a girl must understand the management of money. Some day she will have the spending of an income. Either she will earn the income in paid employment, or it will be part of her work as a home-maker to manage the spending of the house money. Now, money cannot be spent wisely except by planning. The girl should learn how to divide her income, to allot so much for food, so much for clothing, so much for shelter, so much for improvement, recreation, and holidays, so much for the dentist and the doctor, so much to be saved, so much for religious obligations and benevolence, and for safety a margin over, because there are always unforeseen calls on one's income. This planning for the proper division of her income may sound at first a little bewildering. But after all, what is it but learning what we can afford to spend? We begin by buying a little carefully, and as we go on we acquire knowledge and skill. Few things which the twentieth century girl can learn will stand her in better stead in everyday life, or help her more constantly, than knowing how to spend her income wisely, honestly, and helpfully.
We have spoken at some length about food and clothing as they affect health. Quite as important to health are rest and recreation. A girl needs not only plenty of refreshing sleep, but play also and what most people call "good times." It is a mistake to suppose that we can be healthy without play. Often when we are out of sorts, sad, depressed, and gloomy, and our friends are sorry for us and think something dreadful must have happened to make us so unhappy, all that we need in reality is sleep, fresh air, exercise, and play. It is not being a heroine to be sad. Most real heroines are happy people. There is nothing heroic in making other people depressed by our gloomy faces. The ideal girl is healthy and happy, she sleeps eight hours or more at night, and plays a reasonable part of her time. To play all the time is very dull, even more dull than to work all the time. But each day, if possible, one should have some happy play time.
Then, too, the ideal girl will try to see that she helps others to be as healthy and happy as she is herself. Part of the value of knowing how to keep well is that it teaches us how to keep other people well. We should know how others should be fed and clothed and cared for. The girl of the twentieth century needs some knowledge of nursing. It is not necessary for her to be a trained nurse, but she should have some of the knowledge and skill of the trained nurse.
Among the things that every girl needs to know is something of the importance of friendship. The best gifts in the world are love, kindness, faithfulness, sincerity, and purity. It is through our relations with other human beings and our love for them that we begin to understand the love of God.
THE HOUSE WORKER—DOMESTIC SCIENCE
A young woman who is now the author of two successful novels earned the money she needed to attend a teachers' training school by working as a domestic servant. It was the quickest and most convenient way for her to earn a certain sum of money. Her decision and independence of character kept her from hesitating for a moment to make use of this employment. One young woman who is a capable real estate agent takes a position as an experienced general servant when her usual business is slack. A woman at the head of a large business, which she originated and developed herself, earned her living as a domestic until she was twenty-five years old. There is no reason why any of us should be kept from doing good domestic work if it is the most suitable and convenient employment for us.
The disadvantages of domestic work, as it is generally arranged at present, are that the house worker is required to live away from home; her own special sleeping and living accommodation is sometimes not of the best; she has comparatively little time that is absolutely her own; she feels that she is placed at a social disadvantage as compared with other girls who are her friends and who are earning a living in other paid work, and she may be lonely, as a consequence of being often the only paid worker in the household. These are facts to be considered. But it is possible that a re-arrangement of household work, undertaken by modern employers and clever modern girls, who have a gift for household management, as well as character and initiative, may provide a solution for these disadvantages.
The advantages of domestic work include good wages, and more comfortable living conditions than the average paid worker can secure for herself. The house worker has also variety in work, freedom to move about at her work, and freedom from the rigid rules necessary in big business establishments. She is afforded an opportunity to become a highly skilled worker, and she can find a permanent position if she is competent and wishes to remain in one place. Above all, the house worker is getting the best training for home-making.
The wages of the house worker include board, lodging, and washing, and often some part at least of her working clothes. She has two weeks' holidays with wages. She may save in a year a quarter or a third as much money as the entire earnings of her girl friends. At twelve dollars a week, working forty-two weeks in the year, the girl in a factory can earn five hundred and four dollars, out of which she has of course to pay all her expenses. The house worker who is earning twenty-five, thirty or thirty-five dollars a month can easily save two hundred dollars in a year, and a number of them do so. Girls in other paid employments, who pay board and lodging, washing, and carfare out of ten or twelve dollars a week, are practically unable to save anything.
A competent house worker is beyond the fear of unemployment, while the possibility of unemployment or of being laid off for a number of weeks is an anxiety to many other paid women workers. When she marries and has a home of her own to take care of, the house worker is at a great advantage. She can take up the work of a home easily, and her management is a success from the beginning.
The accomplishment most frequently required from the domestic worker is ability to cook. The girl who has a natural gift in this direction should take pains to develop it. She may have to begin to earn her living when she is quite young. In this case she should apply for a position as second maid in a household where a cook is kept, and she should be careful to learn from the cook all that she needs to know in order to become a professional expert in cooking. Or she should look for a position as house worker with an employer who is herself a good housekeeper and who is willing to train her.
The improvement of housework conditions is largely in the hands of household employees. If a young woman is an excellent cook and a competent household manager, she can make practically her own conditions with women employers. If she prefers to live at home or in a room of her own outside the house where she is employed, she can explain to her employer the hours that she is willing to be on duty and how the work of the house can be arranged so that she can accomplish the greater part of it during these hours. She will be certain to find some intelligent woman employer who will agree to her conditions. Only the first-class worker, who can plan and carry out her plans successfully, will be able to do this; and every woman employer may not see the benefit of such an arrangement. There are a number of households where the woman in charge will be glad to accept service during half the day, but here also the house worker must be first class. The trained domestic worker of high qualifications, able to do her work to perfection, and to consider intelligently how the work of the household can be organized, will add greatly to the standing of this employment.
The house worker should have a fairly good general education. The better her general education, the more successful she is likely to be. She should be intelligent, obliging, and adaptable. She should have a strong sense of honour, for she is largely on her own responsibility, and the welfare of the home is often trusted in her hands. The ideal household employee should have some of the qualities of the artist. The work of a fine cook is artistic, and the perfect care of a house requires both the eye and the hand of an artist. No woman can be a success as a paid house worker who is not kind. She often has some part of the care of children, and it is wrong to have an ill-tempered or unkind person in charge of, or in company with, children. Besides this, the care of a house, the cooking of food, cleanliness, and the work of adapting oneself to the wants of others cannot be carried out well and cheerfully unless the worker responsible for this work is kind.
Wages are unusually good in domestic work as compared with other employments for women. Some girls, however, are underpaid. A girl may receive, for instance, twelve dollars a month. No girl with initiative or knowledge of housework needs to remain in such a position. Wages vary from twenty, twenty-two, to twenty-five, thirty, and thirty-five dollars, according to the locality, the nature of the work, and the skill of the worker. A first-class cook commands high wages. So also does a first-class managing housekeeper. A general servant of ability and character, who undertakes most of the work of a household, with the exception of the washing, will receive twenty, twenty-five or thirty dollars. In some parts of the country her wages may be higher. If trained workers, who have special gifts for household management and who feel that they can do better in this employment than any other, would undertake the re-organizing of house work, this occupation should take its rightful place as one of the best occupations for the average woman.
From a consideration of domestic service we naturally pass on to those occupations of girls which grow out of a knowledge of "domestic science." The study of domestic science is making itself felt in the homes of the country and is opening up many avenues of employment for girls. The management of clubs, hotels, restaurants, tea-rooms, cafeterias, and lunch-rooms in connection with colleges, departmental stores, and banks, affords employment for those who have the gifts and training necessary. Special cooking for invalids, the supplying of specialties, such as marmalade, pickles, preserved fruit, canned fruit and vegetables, salted nuts, cakes of various kinds and other dainties is work which is being carried on successfully by numbers of women and girls. The girl, in considering employment, should remember that she will be at an advantage in any specialized women's employment and that the world is offering her opportunities for good work which a few years ago had not been dreamed of. The occupation of house work, household management, cooking, all the arts of the home, will well repay the enthusiasm and energy of every girl who has a gift in this direction. What the girl with ability for this work needs to bring to her problem is, not only enthusiasm and energy, but originality and initiative. "I have a real gift," she should say to herself; "how can I make the best use of it?"
Universities have established departments of domestic science, and there are also domestic science training schools. Numbers of graduates find positions as instructors. Many other positions are open to the domestic science graduate. Practical experience is required in most of these openings. After graduating it is advisable to find a position as an assistant. In this way the young woman in this occupation will become fitted to hold the most responsible and remunerative posts. There are possibilities in household work and domestic science which have not yet been realized.
Two girls were playing a game of tennis together. One of the girls was a skilful player, but the other knew little of the game. In a few minutes the skilful player came to the side of the net where the other stood. "See," she said, "this is the way to hold your racket. This is the way to strike the ball." The unskilled player grasped the idea, and immediately much pleasure was added to the game for them both.
A singer was giving a lesson to one of her pupils. She explained to her carefully how to stand, how to breathe, and how to let her voice flow easily and naturally from her throat. The pupil's voice became to her thereafter something more than it had ever been before.
Two men in a business office were discussing whether or not they should undertake a new enterprise. One of the men, seeing that the other man had not yet perceived the principle underlying the business situation, drew a sheet of paper in front of them on the desk and made on it a series of calculations. "I understand now," the other man said, "I see the risk and how you have made provision for meeting it."
The skilful tennis-player, the trained singer, the able business man were sharing their knowledge with others, showing them how to make the best use of their powers. That is to say, they were teaching others. Every person is to some extent a born teacher, but some men and women make teaching their life work.
Many girls teach for a few years before entering some other occupation. Perhaps they earn money in this way to take a course at a college or university, and afterwards they may either return to teaching or enter some other profession. There are other girls who are what we call "born teachers." They love more than anything else, guiding, training, and helping children. It is no trouble to them, but rather a delight, to show and direct, gently, repeatedly, untiringly, along the path of knowledge. Girls who are born teachers should receive every encouragement to devote themselves to teaching until they have homes to look after and children of their own to teach. Many good teachers teach only for a few years and do excellent work. But it is to the "born teachers" that we must look for the happiness of the school and its highest development.
The girl who means to be a teacher should look forward to spending a number of years in school. She will enjoy this, for the teacher must be a student and must love studying. It may be that her family cannot afford to keep her at school. Then she can do what so many other girls have done. She can go to work to earn money for her own support, and while doing this she can save part of her earnings so that later she may return to school. The school vacation in summer offers opportunities for paid work, and every girl of energy and determination can find work to do.
The girl who is to be a teacher should never be satisfied with a minimum of learning. If this is her attitude toward school, then she should never be a teacher; because no girl or woman can be a good teacher who does not love to learn. The office of a teacher is a sacred trust, since she is responsible for the future well-being and happiness of little children. So if the girl does not love to learn, she should find some work other than teaching.
Provincial Governments in Canada have charge of education, and each Province has its own regulations, carefully framed, to provide good teachers for the children of the Province. The girl who is to be a teacher must pass a series of examinations, the first two of which are for teaching in lower grades and higher grades of the public schools. The graduate of a university has a standing which enables her to teach classes in high schools and collegiate institutes.
The girl may continue her studies while she is teaching in a public school, and she may either take her next examination without attending further classes, or, when she has saved enough money, she may return to school for a few sessions before trying her examination. The girl who has energy and ability and who loves study is often able to obtain an excellent education for the teaching profession in this way. It is necessary, however, to warn girls who find study very difficult, that it is doubtful if they should think of trying to pass this series of examinations. If they love teaching and have a true gift for it, they will probably be able to take the first examinations, which are comparatively easy. The higher examinations may be beyond their reach. This fact should not depress them. Their work is with the little children, and there is no better work in the world.
The most important qualities for a teacher are a sympathetic understanding of human nature, a keen sense of justice, and a sense of humour. These are great qualities, but the girl who means to teach should notice that they may be both acquired and developed. Any one who gives all her energies and gifts to teaching will find that the work is a strain. The teacher should not allow her work to become set in a fixed routine. She should guard against becoming autocratic and unprogressive. She should never cease to be herself a student. Each day should add a little to the sum of her knowledge. She may begin the study of new subjects, and thus keep a certain freshness in her mental attitude. More important, however, than the knowledge gained from books, is her interest in the life of the community in which she is living.
The salary of the teacher varies according to the community in which she lives and the grade of teaching in which she is occupied. It may be taken as a general rule that teachers do not become wealthy. They are not highly paid, considering the time spent in preparing to teach and the quality of their work. Their salaries, however, almost invariably ensure them a fair average of comfort in food, clothing, and shelter, an opportunity to save, to continue their studies, to travel a little, and to enjoy their holidays, which are longer than the holidays of the average worker. A teacher's holidays are necessary for mental and nervous recuperation and should include some study and improvement in aims and methods of work. The rewards of the profession are not in money and leisure merely. Teachers have the respect and affection of the community to a degree enjoyed by few other workers.
If a girl begins to teach in the schools of a city, she will enter a thoroughly systematized and complex organization. In the city the teacher's salary is increased automatically year by year if her work is satisfactory. In towns and villages salaries are lower, but living expenses are lower also. In partly settled districts and districts where there is as yet little appreciation of the value of good teaching, salaries are low. Maximum salaries for women who have taught for a number of years in the public schools and have unusual ability as teachers may be as high as nine hundred or one thousand dollars. These women teachers, with their ability, would probably make more money in other occupations, but their work would hardly be of the same service to the community, nor would they have the same feeling of satisfaction in doing it. The salaries of women in high schools and collegiate institutes vary from seven or eight hundred dollars to eighteen hundred, two thousand, or twenty-four hundred. Women who are lecturers and professors in colleges and universities are paid amounts similar to the higher salaries in collegiate institutes.
The average salaries of women teachers in the public schools of Ontario for 1917 were as follows: Cities, $795; towns, $628; incorporated villages, $573; rural schools, $580.
Besides the ordinary teaching of the class-room, girls may be attracted to the teaching of special subjects. The girl who studies for kindergarten work needs to have an active imagination, a sympathetic understanding of child nature, a happy disposition, and both vocal and instrumental musical training. There are also domestic science teachers, teachers of special classes for handicapped children, teachers of manual training, sewing, millinery, music, physical training, arts and handicrafts, and commercial subjects. The girl of special opportunities and gifts may become a teacher of languages. Other girls may teach privately in households. Others, if they have capital and some business ability, may establish small private schools of their own in neighbourhoods where such schools are required. Recreation centres and playgrounds, settlements, the training of foreign children, call for unusual or special gifts and energies from girls and women who teach. There are also executive and administrative positions in large schools and school systems which may be obtained by women teachers of experience.
There are still discoveries and advances to be made before perfect training and education can be secured for our children. Girls who teach may hope to aid in making these discoveries. Patient work, constructive imagination, and enthusiasm are required in the great enterprise of advancing education. As an inspiration, the lives of great teachers invite young teachers of this century to follow their examples of devotion and leadership. It is not many years since a woman teacher in Montreal saved as many of her children as she could and stayed to shepherd the other little ones who perished with her in the burning school. The name of Sara Maxwell is an inspiration to every Canadian child who hears her story. She gave her life to protect and comfort her pupils and became one of that great number of teachers who have proved that theirs is a high calling.
THE WORK OF A NURSE
There are many wise sayings about the trained nurse, two among which may be given here. One of these was spoken by a woman who is herself a distinguished trained nurse, and the other by a woman in a public position who has met many people and is a good judge of character. The nurse said, "Trained nursing will make a woman very good or it will harden her." The other woman said, "I have never known a nurse who was not glad to be a nurse and who was not thankful for a nurse's training." These two sayings show that the work of a trained nurse is no ordinary occupation. The girl who becomes a nurse-in-training is preparing to enter an employment which will have a great effect upon her character.
A girl must be twenty, in some hospitals twenty-five, years of age before she is accepted by a training school of good standing. If she prefers to enter a school connected with a children's hospital, she may be accepted when she is twenty. The work of a nurse calls for physical strength and endurance, and it has been found that girls under twenty or even under twenty-five are not strong enough to stand the strain of hospital work. A very strong healthy girl under twenty may say, "Oh, but I am strong enough to stand the strain." She is mistaken. It is not only physical strength which is required, but physical endurance, and these extra years are needed to develop this endurance. If a girl who hopes to be a nurse leaves school when she is seventeen or eighteen, the best work she can undertake in order to prepare for nursing is work in her own home. Another way in which she may spend part of her time profitably is in the reading of good books, so that she may store her mind with thoughts and information which will be helpful to her in dealing with her patients. No woman who is a nurse can be too well read, or too well informed in art, music, biography, history, and the public affairs of the day. If a girl, who feels that nursing is her real work, prefers to earn her living between the time when she leaves school and the day that she is accepted as a probationer, she may enter some other calling, and meanwhile may add to her useful knowledge both of people and of work. She should also save some money, for while the training of a nurse is not expensive, still as probationer and, later, as nurse-in-training, she will need money for necessary expenses.
The intending nurse should make a few financial calculations before she begins her course of training. The hospital will give her exact directions as to the clothes she will need for her work while she is a probationer. She will require some spending money, and she should be provided with a good stock of clothes, especially underwear, shoes, and stockings. When she is accepted as a nurse-in-training, she may be given by the hospital a monthly allowance which is supposed to provide her with clothes and the books required for her studies. This sum varies in different hospitals. Generally speaking, it is fifteen or twenty dollars a month. In any case, the sum will be hardly sufficient to cover all her expenses, although it is wonderful on how little money nurses-in-training have been able to manage. Some hospitals do not give their nurses-in-training any money and require that the nurse should pay a sum for her instruction. It is usual for these hospitals to provide nurses-in-training with uniforms, caps, and aprons.
Most training schools require from applicants an educational standard of four years in a high school or matriculation status. Young women who are college graduates may take the training of a nurse after they leave the university. The business girl or the girl in any other occupation who means to be a nurse and who has left school before reaching the necessary standard can prepare for her training by attending evening classes or studying by herself or with a friend.
The intending nurse should choose with great care the hospital in which she means to train. The standing of the hospital will have a marked influence onher career as a nurse. Some hospitals are justly famous for the excellent training which they give. The usual length of time required is three years. A number of hospitals, however, have courses of two years.
The time of probation lasts three, four, or six months. During this time the probationer will be tested for endurance, neatness, earnestness, and ability. No probationer who is untidy or who is wanting in personal cleanliness is accepted in a training school. The professional appearance of the nurse is essential to her success. Few women are more attractive in appearance than a nurse in uniform.
Nurses-in-training live in a nurses' home which is one of the hospital buildings. In these buildings the nurse will spend by far the greater part of her time for two or three years. The hospital is a world in itself, and the nurse will have few interests outside its walls. Most nurses regard their years of training as a time of growth and wonderful experience, and the average nurse is very happy during this time, although a great deal of the work is not pleasant and almost all of it is hard. The nurse learns that work of any kind may come within her province. She will have to do anything which helps toward the recovery of her patients or contributes to their comfort. Some of her experiences will teach her resolution and bravery. Speaking of such experiences a nurse once said: "As long as you can do anything to help, you can manage. It is the being able to help that matters." The life of the nurse-in-training is regular, and the hospital regime is such that as a rule nurses-in-training are healthy.
The nurse should have good health and a good constitution. In some cases, however, a girl may be in poor health because she has no definite occupation or object in life. Training as a nurse has often helped to establish good health. The girl who applies at a hospital training school requires a doctor's certificate, and the doctor will be able to tell her whether she is strong enough to undertake the work of a nurse. She should be a girl of strong character, steady nerves, clear mind, and good judgment. She must acquire the habit of obedience if she does not already possess it. A nurse, like a soldier, is under authority and has to carry out directions exactly as if they were commands. In her work she will need tact, discretion, and firmness, and with her firmness she must be always and unfailingly kind. Her voice and manner should be as pleasing as possible. No unkind or rough woman should ever have anything to do with the work of nursing.
Short courses in nursing are given in some cities by the Young Women's Christian Association. The St. John Ambulance also has given instruction in nursing for a number of years. Since the beginning of the War, various courses have been arranged for Red Cross nurses. The honourable work of what are known as V. A. D. (Voluntary Aid Detachment) nurses proves how valuable any good instruction in nursing is, not only for the individual, but also for the community. It is not too much to say that the whole service of nursing in the world would not have been adequate if it had not been for the training and work of volunteer nurses. The War has proved beyond all question the extraordinary value of the trained nurse.
After graduating from the training school, the nurse may undertake private nursing or she may follow her profession in institutional work. Private nursing is exacting, and the nurse must be strong and capable. Her hours are longer and much more irregular than when she was in training, and often she will be on her own responsibility. She will feel, however, that she is doing work of great value, and she will win the regard of many of her patients and their families. The good standing of the training school is an assistance to the nurse when she looks for cases. If she is favourably known to doctors, she is likely to have as much work as she can manage. Hospitals often engage their graduates to return for private cases. A usual charge for a graduate nurse is from twenty-one to thirty-five dollars a week according to the nature of the case. A nurse in private work cannot work uninterruptedly throughout the year. Her name is on a nurses' registry, which is generally conducted by an association of nurses or by a private individual. Returns from these registries show that the average nurse is employed about ten months in the year. Many graduate nurses earn from eight to nine hundred dollars a year in private nursing, while some earn a thousand or twelve hundred, but this is exceptional.
Nurses who are not graduates are sent out by some registries. Their charges vary according to the case. These women are sometimes called convalescent nurses and, in cases where a graduate nurse is not required, they fill a real need in the community.
As a general rule, a trained nurse does not continue in private nursing longer than ten or twelve years. Frequently, at the end of that time, her health necessitates a change of occupation. Others continue their work successfully for many years.
Many trained nurses prefer institutional rather than private nursing. Head nurses in hospitals receive from thirty to sixty dollars a month. There are also nurses who superintend private hospitals. A few nurses of executive ability, business knowledge, and experience in nursing, become superintendents of hospitals, but not of the largest hospitals. A number are heads of training schools. Such leading nurses receive salaries varying from one thousand to two thousand dollars a year, with living expenses in addition. The work of a woman superintendent who is a trained nurse includes the financial management, responsibility for the nurses, training of the nurses, the care of patients, and the oversight of the hospital. Few individuals are equal to such work and responsibility. Other trained nurses become matrons and housekeepers in private hospitals, sanitaria, and colleges. Some are district nurses. Public health nurses assist in supervising the health of a city and give instruction in cleanliness, sanitary science, and the care and feeding of infants. Private schools, colleges, factories, and departmental stores employ the services of trained nurses.
A few children's hospitals give short courses in training for children's nurses—an employment for which many girls are specially fitted. This course must not be confused with the regular instruction of the trained nurse, as it is not on a level with the profession of trained nursing. A children's nurse with hospital training will receive twenty or twenty-five dollars a month; in some instances such a nurse is paid higher wages.
DRESSMAKERS AND SEAMSTRESSES
The head of a dressmaking department in a large store in a city, when asked how she prepared herself for her position, told this story. "I never took any lessons; but I had always made my own dresses and my sisters'. I remember walking down the street of the little town where I lived, one day after my father died, and as I passed the door of the best dressmaking shop in the town, it occurred to me that the man in charge of the store had often said that he would gladly pay me good wages if I would work for him. I made up my mind while passing his shop that day that I would not work for him, but that I would open a dressmaking establishment of my own. I did so, and it succeeded from the first. After a few years I thought I should like to move to the city. I applied for the position here and was appointed."
A second instance shows how a girl may have ability which she has not at first understood how to use. In this case the girl was anxious to enter another occupation. She wished to be a painter and had studied for some years both in Canada and abroad. Needing to earn some money, she found that she could sell dress designs to a manufacturing establishment, but there was not a large demand for such work in the city where she lived. Accordingly, she and another girl, also an artist, took a studio in a city which was a centre of fashions, and together they worked on dress designs for exclusive shops. They both had some money saved, and one of the girls had a small, regular income. The first girl proved to have a very rare sense of colour and design. It is now her work to make colour combinations and provide the ideas for original designs, while the second girl, who is a good draughtsman, executes the coloured drawings. These girls are now recognized as two of the best costume designers in the city where they are working.
It is apparent, then, that the girl with good eyesight, clever hands, and a fine sense of colour and form, is likely to be a success as a dressmaker. But how is she best to prepare herself for her chosen occupation? She should practise sewing, either by hand or machine. She should cultivate steady application to such work, and she should not object to spending a good part of her time indoors. She should have a certain amount of taste and some ingenuity in carrying out her own ideas or the ideas of others. Manual skill, originality, and artistic ability are required by the successful dressmaker. The girl who means to make dresses for others, should, herself, dress quietly and in good taste.
If the girl is able to continue at school and has a natural gift for dressmaking, the best way for her to learn her trade is to spend some years at a technical school. Here she will be taught sewing in all its phases—fitting, finishing, designing, the choice and use of materials, and the business details of dressmaking. The dressmaker cannot learn her trade once for all and go on repeating operations which do not require originality. Styles change, and season by season she will have to adapt and carry out alterations in fashion which will tax all her ability. If she cannot give more than two years to learning her trade in school, she is still at a great advantage when she enters a dressmaking establishment. She will understand all the different processes and will be able to work in the various sections, thus gaining far more rapidly in experience than if she had had everything to learn from the beginning. Actual trade experience will teach her a great deal. If, however, she is obliged to leave school at fourteen, she should at least have had the advantage of the instruction in sewing which is given in the public schools. It is probable that she may be obliged, when she enters a dressmaking establishment, to act as a messenger girl. She should make sure, however, that she is not used for running messages only. It would be better for her to accept less pay, with the understanding that she is to be taught the details of dressmaking, than to earn more money and have no opportunity to learn. The more she tries to understand and imitate the work of experienced dressmakers, the better will be her training. The custom of having apprentices has fallen rather into disuse, and the girl will find the learning of her trade left largely to her own initiative. As soon as she begins to have some skill in the operations of the workroom, she should attend evening classes in sewing, fitting, finishing, and designing. She should wait, however, until she is sixteen or seventeen before she attends these classes. While she is learning from other dressmakers, she will have sufficient work for a few years.
The first work she will be given to do will be finishing the underside of dresses, felling and binding, sewing on buttons, pulling out basting threads, and working button-holes. After this, the younger workers begin to specialize in skirt-making, waist-draping and waist-finishing. The designing and cutting are the work of a head dressmaker. There are also sleeve makers and their helpers, embroiderers, and collar makers. One of the younger workers is called the shopper and is sent to wholesale and retail establishments to buy furnishings, trimmings, and materials of various kinds.
The working hours in large establishments are eight, eight and a half, and nine hours. Smaller businesses have hours from eight to six o'clock. Dressmaking is somewhat seasonal, and the dressmaker must reckon, to some extent, on slack time. Generally speaking, there are two dull months in summer and one in winter.
A messenger girl may begin at from five to eight dollars a week. A dressmaker who does machine work and who does not specialize in other work, may earn ten dollars a week. Other wages range, according to the worker's ability and the work she can do, from twelve to fifteen, and from sixteen to eighteen dollars. Head dressmakers who cut out and design, receive salaries of thirty dollars a week in large establishments, less in smaller establishments. In somewhat rare cases a head dressmaker is paid more than thirty dollars a week.
The experienced dressmaker, who is at the same time a good business woman, may conduct an establishment of her own which will bring her in anything from one thousand to six thousand a year and over. But she must be able to manage matters of capital and credit, understand buying, and succeed in winning the favour of her clients. Custom dressmaking is being increasingly limited to high-class and exclusive work. The small and highly specialized dressmaking factory is affecting the custom trade. Girls, therefore, who are thinking of dressmaking as an occupation, should examine opportunities in the exclusive factory, since this branch of the industry is becoming increasingly important.
Another department of dressmaking to which no reference has yet been made in this chapter is the work of the seamstress who sews by the day in the homes of her employers. If she is really a competent dressmaker, her employment is assured. But it is a mistake for a girl or young woman without training or experience, or without a dressmaker's gifts, to undertake dressmaking by the day. A dressmaker—to define the term—is one who understands cutting, fitting, and making dresses sufficiently well to undertake the occupation as a trade. A girl should be at least eighteen or twenty before she becomes a day seamstress. In this work she is on her own responsibility and is handling goods of some value, so that she needs judgment as well as knowledge. The rates of payment are from a dollar and seventy-five cents to two dollars and a half a day, meals included. Sometimes the home dressmaker may be paid even three dollars or more a day, but in this case she must be quick, and her work must be exceptionally well done. The ordinary seamstress should be a neat sewer and should know how to fit, but she is not expected to design or to make elaborate costumes.
Millinery, like dressmaking, is partly a factory trade. But it is also, like dressmaking, carried on in shops and in departmental stores. The average girl is interested in hat-making, and is able to turn out a hat which she can wear with satisfaction. But a first-class milliner is really an artist. Her hands must be skilful and quick, her touch light and sure. She must have a sense of colour and form, and originality and creative ability. A girl who combines these gifts with business ability is likely to make a success of an establishment of her own.
Training for this occupation may be obtained in several ways. The girl who can afford to remain at school may take a course in millinery at a trade or technical school. She may then obtain a position in a millinery establishment as a maker of hats, and will receive a beginner's salary according to the quality of her work. She should have no difficulty in advancing rapidly in her occupation if she has the necessary gifts.
The girl who leaves school at fourteen may find a place as messenger girl in a millinery shop or a millinery department. Some milliners make a special point of training their own helpers, and any girl who enters an establishment of this kind will receive valuable instruction. There is a danger, however, that the girl in some shops will find her work confined to running messages. In this case she will not become a trained milliner and her prospects of advancement are poor. She should, therefore, see that she is being taught her trade. It is usual for an apprentice to work for two seasons without pay, and if she is being well taught she should be satisfied. In places where living expenses are high, as in large cities, girls are often allowed a small sum per week while they are learning.
The young milliner's first work is learning how to make bands for hats and to make and sew in linings. Making frames for hats follows—the frames are of wire and buckram. The girl has next to learn how to cover frames with materials of different kinds—silk, velvet, lace, chiffon, etc.—and she as a result learns to know intimately and to handle skilfully delicate and costly fabrics. From being an apprentice she becomes an assistant maker and then a maker of hats. She may then be promoted to the work of a trimmer. The work of the trimmer is considered one of the most difficult stages in the creation of a hat. The girl who aspires to this work must have an eye for beauty of line and she should know how to harmonize the trimming to the shape of the hat. In smaller establishments the trimmer is also the designer. The girl who has original ideas is always the most important in an establishment. For this reason the designer commands the highest salary.
Assistant milliners may earn wages varying from seven and eight to fifteen and eighteen dollars a week. In an exclusive business a first assistant may get as much as twenty-five dollars a week, but she will need to be a good saleswoman and a successful manager in the workroom. The milliner in charge of a department or one who is managing an exclusive millinery shop of recognized standing, receives a high salary. As a rule the woman who buys abroad and does so with judgment and skill is in receipt of the largest income that is given to a milliner. These cases are all exceptional. A moderate millinery establishment owned and managed by a woman is likely to produce an income of one thousand, fifteen hundred, or two thousand dollars a year.
Experience shows that ability to sell hats counts for almost as much as ability to create. Tact, skill, patience, must be combined with the genuine gift required to find the hat which will be most becoming to a customer, or to know how to alter a hat so that it may suit the taste of the purchaser. Once it is proved to a customer that the milliner has this gift, her custom is assured.
A point of the first importance to the girl who means to be a milliner is the fact that millinery is a seasonal trade. The spring and fall trade may give her employment for seven or eight months only in the year. In the better millinery establishments the girls are laid off without wages six weeks or two months. In large departmental stores other positions are found for the girls and they may be without employment for only a few weeks. But the girl must understand that if she is earning ten dollars a week for thirty weeks in the year as a young milliner her income is only three hundred dollars. For this reason it is wise for the young milliner to have a second occupation. She may spend her summer months working in an hotel as a waitress or caring for children or picking fruit. In the winter slack season she may find a position as a saleswoman. If she can afford to remain at home, she may spend the time in replenishing her own wardrobe, and sewing for members of her family. She may also get some orders for making hats from friends and relatives. She should use the slack season to attend classes in design and salesmanship, skill in which will increase her efficiency and her earning power.
MAKING ONE'S OWN CLOTHES. HOME MILLINERY
In the chapter on "What Every Girl Needs to Know" we found how important it is that girls should have a good deal of general knowledge of the cutting and fitting of clothes, design, what constitutes right line and beauty, the characteristics and uses of materials, and what is called style, which is really often only good design and good workmanship. Girls should welcome every opportunity to learn skill and judgment in spending their allowances or their wages. The girl who buys wisely is able to make the same amount of money give her twice the return in value which a foolish girl who buys carelessly receives from her ill-considered investments.
It is a wise plan, therefore, for every girl to learn a good deal about dressmaking and to be able to cut out and sew many of her own garments. She should also study buying. The best teacher she can have in learning how to buy is generally her own mother. But sometimes her friends will be able to give her help in this way. Girls who work in factories where clothing is made, and girls in shops and stores, learn from their work when blouses, coats and skirts are skilfully cut and well made. But this is part of the general knowledge that every girl should have. One girl can easily help to teach another who in return will be able to assist her friend in other ways. Not to be equipped with this skill in dressmaking and in buying makes the girl largely dependent on others as far as her clothing and appearance are concerned, and in this way she may be placed at a disadvantage both in her work and in her life at home.
For the same reason every girl should learn something about the making of hats and of the materials used in millinery. To be able to make her own wearing apparel is one of the principles of economy for the girl. She may be able with this knowledge to provide herself with a becoming hat for a small amount of money. She will know, too, whether the amount asked for a hat is reasonable, and will often be able to resist an extravagance because she will be able to tell that she is being asked to pay a considerable sum of money for an article which is intrinsically not worth the expenditure. The girl who can make her own dresses, blouses and other wearing apparel and who is an adept in home millinery possesses knowledge which has a direct money value. She is much better off financially than any girl who cannot sew and who is not able to trim her own hats.