rightly insisting that we try to make life at the workplace more challenging, less degrading, more meaningful. That is something that all of us should subscribe to and support.
Eileen Whalen. Working women.
More and more women are leaving the house at 8 a.m. and coming back at 6 p.m., five days a week. They're riding the buses and subways or getting a lift from a neighbor to go to the office or the plant. Though more and more hours are spent by women at their jobs away from home, there is an attitude among employers and many of us that those jobs are not their real work and need not be taken seriously.
Today's average woman has had her last child before she's thirty. So by the time she is thirty-six her children are either in school or on their own. At this age she often thinks of going back to work.
|Marital status of women workers||(Approx.)|
|Married (husband present)||60%|
|Divorced, separated, or widowed||20%|
| 1920: Average age: 28; usually single factory|
worker or clerk
| 1970: Average age 39; usually married, in|
variety of occupations
If a woman with children works, her average work life will be twenty-five years. The woman who never marries works an average of forty years.
The greatest recent increase in women workers has been among young married women. This increase is probably due to the recession which brought on inflation and unsteady employment for many husbands. About one out of three women with children under six is working, usually part-time. There also has been an increase in young wives who work full-time, putting off having children. With male teachers and engineers losing their jobs, even middle-class wives increasingly have no choice but to go to work.
Are young women just passing the time waiting for a husband and children? Do married women want extra money for clothes and luxuries, or are they just bored with staying at home? These are the explanations most frequently given in the magazines. These explanations are myths which are profitable for employers. For women, they only reinforce work conditions where women have low wages and status, boring and repetitive work, with little training and promotion whether working three or thirty years.
By far the main reason women work is to keep their heads above water economically. Approximately 75 percent of the families where the wife works would have an inadequate income if she didn't work.
In two out of four families, the wife's working brings the income up to $7,000. For a family of four that means having better meat on the table and being able to buy more than one winter coat a year per family. For the third family, the wife's working brings the income up to $9,000. For that family it means having some choice in housing and going to a private doctor rather than a crowded clinic. In the fourth family, the husband's salary is adequate and the wife may work because she wants to.
Single, divorced, separated, and widowed women are supporting themselves and often their children. Ninety percent of divorced women work.
Working wives sometimes create conflicts while easing others. Tensions and frustra-