Household Science---The Oldest Profession for Women
The first of a series of articles on choosing a girl’s vocation.
THERE are certain common questions in the mind of every girl who looks forward to what we used to call a “career,” or to even a year or two of wag e-earning between school and marriage. Concerning the choice of a vocation, she asks: “Am I suited to it?”
“Can I do it well and will I be happy doing it?”—for no thinking girl is satisfied with a calling that does not occupy her heart as well as her head and her hands. “What technical preparation is required and how much will it cost?”
“Is it overcrowded chance of advancement?” “Does it afford opportunities for self-development and is it of service to the community?” For the girl who considers a vocation seriously usually has a social conscience. And if she thinks a little further she will also ask: “If I am married, will
it make me a better homemaker and wife and mother?” This last isn’t so limiting as it sounds, because whatever makes a girl a broader, finer woman will make her a better homemaker and a better wife and mother.
It was. of course, with the idea of training girls for home life that household science was given a place on the curriculum of girls’ schools and colleges. During the last few years, however, the growing demand from a hundred outside source^ for women so trained, has given th;s oldest occupation for women a professional importance beyond the dreams of the most enthusiastic of technical educationists. Hospitals are calling for qualified dietitians; public institutions and residence colleges want housekeepers with a scientific understanding of their work; highclass hotels and l-estaurants are offering alluring salaries for supervisors and buyers; commercial firms, manufacturers of food products are asking for household science graduates for demonstrators and for laboratory work; people want to have their girls taught domestic science from the public school up, so there is a growing demand for teachers for schools, girls’ colleges and for special short courses in outlying places. And while these positions are being filled steadily, each year has among its graduates some girl who goes out and tries some new trail, for the alluring thins: about a household science training is that it gives the girl of imtlative and imagination a key to an endless variety of new fields.
■^TOT all the girls who take the House* ^ hold Science Teacher’s training, expecting to teach straight domestic science in a public school, go back to the public school, though there is perhaps no phase of the work more worth while than guiding the rank and file of the girls of the country, some of whom will never have any other training in housekeeping before they go into homes of their own, into some skill in housework and some understanding and love of homemaking. The public school household science teacher sees returns for her work in every trig new home beaming forth on the streets of the suburbs, in every marriage announcement in the daily papers, and thanks to the progressive instincts of Canadians, the demand for household science in public schools is growing in every
province. Other graduates are teaching in technical schools and private schools and colleges for girls, in the agricultural schools of Alberta, in Normal schools and agricultural c o 1leges. Some of these teacher graduates ai*e not only teaching household science but are heads of Home Economics departments in the agricultural colleges. The province of Saskatchewan has a woman superintendent of Household Science in its Department of Education. It is a household science teacher who is superintendent of Home Economics for the Soldiers’ Settlement Board; the same woman was formerly principal of a ladies’ college. A number of girls are doing extension work for the agricultural colleges and Departments of Agriculture of the diffei’ent provinces, taking their charts and cooking kits and traveling to the farthest villages of the district, to demonstrate bread-making and canning and balanced meals and infant feeding and what-not that the woman who has never had household science included in her education might want to know.
Only the university girl who takes her H.Sc. degree can teach in a university or in some of the colleges. A two-year course or the one-year professional teacher’s course given at the colleges affiliated with a university gives the standing required for any of the other positions mentioned. A great many graduates from these one and two year courses later take post graduate work and get their degrees.
Salaries for Household Science teachers in Canada run from six hundred dollars for the easiest of public school work to eighteen hundred dollars for the more responsible positions, and the cost of the training is not prohibitive. At one of the best residence colleges of Household Economics in the Dominion the books, fees, board and everything for the two-years’ course could be covered by five hundred dollars.
\/ERY often, however, the girl with » the best endowments and foundation training for household science, homemaking and all the related arts and crafts and ’osophies has not the necessary academic education to enter the teachers' class. Neither does she want to teach housekeeping; she wants to do it and to make her living thereby. She has had practical experience in housework and managing a home in her o’.vn family. Perhaps it has been necessary for her to do this when she otherwise would have been learning a vocation of her own and at twenty-five or over circumstances have just made it possible for her to do something for herself; perhaps she has “played around” when she might have been in training and has just wakened to the necessity or desire to do something. For this girl the same residence college, the Macdonald Institute, offers a most attractive and practical Housekeeper Course—a two-year course which can also be covered for the reasonable sum of five hundred dollars, and the Superintendent says: “If a woman has per-
sonality, and social experience, uñth some culture, home experience and a fair education, it would pay her to borrow the money. We can place that type of woman as fast as we can get her.” In fact this college wasn't able to fill half the calls that came in for housekeepers and dietitians this year.
The Housekeeper Course tends especially to fit a woman for institutional housekeeping and dietitian work. Graduates are now employed as housekeeper and dietitians in general hospitals, military hospitals and soldiers’ convalescent homes, though the numbers that have married from these latter institutions during the last three years has thinned the ranks considerably
Miss McAdams, M.P.P., the soldiers’ representative in Alberta, was a housekeeper graduate who went overseas as a dietitian. They are also in steady demand for matron housekeeper, “house mother” or whatever the woman may be called who makes a home of a college residence, a Y.W.C.A. or other girls’ boarding house, a House of Refuge, a Boys’ Home or a Woman’s Club. The matron in one Canadian asylum for the insane gets a salary of two thousand debars and her living. One graduate is employed as matron in the woman’s residence in connection with a large factory in Ontario. Another is secretary and manager of a Toronto Ladies: Club. The same girl, before the war, went to England and conducted a training school for girls who were coming to Canada to go into domestic service. Another is managing a Community Canning Kitchen. Several are working as Y.W.C.A. Secretaries. A number aro employed steadily or temporarily as demonstration-lecturers in the extension work of the Department of Agriculture or the agricultural colleges of the various provinces. The commercial field has taken a few in such lines as flour testing for the great milling companies, buying for hotels and restaurants, or running tea-rooms and cafeterias. Occupational therapy work in military hospitals and social sei*vice work have appealed to others. Her college training is of coqrse as invaluable as it is indispensable in any of these lines*, but the fact that she is trained gives the girl a standing which admits her to places where she could never go without it. Housekeeper graduates are possibly a little better
paid than teachers, the salaries running from five hundred dollars with living, to as high as two thousand.
For the giri with a gift for leadership, a zeal for the good of humanity, and the right executive ability, a household science training opens the way to sonre most interesting and valuable social service work. This field has not been very largely developed, in Can'ada yet, hut it has already attracted notice and should have a glorious future ahead. A household science graduate is superintendent of a settlement in a foreign district of a Western city. When the ’flu epidemic broke out last fall, she organized the whole district, superintended the equipping of a hospital and the operation of a soup kitchen, and the settlement house became the place of refuge for the whole community. The city hasn’t forgotten it yet. In a less spectacular way girls who teach during the day are giving real Christian service in going to the down-town mothers’ meetings and girls’ clubs at night, trying to show how best to make the scant family income cope with the swelling food prices, how to make a stew and cut out a dress and feed a baby.
As for what a Household Science education will do for the girl herself, it is one of the few professions of which the criticism cannot be made that it “leads away from the home.” The girl who likes homemaking well enough to take it up as a profession, will be all the more enthusiastic afterwards over the making and keeping of her own home. She won’t find the cooking of meals monotonous because she will know that it is the work of a dietitian, a chemist and an artist—a work w’orth -while because it means the intelligent physical building of human beings. She won’t find housekeeping a work of drudgery because she will know how to apply to the commonest tasks the science and mechanics ar.d the architectural wisdom that belong to every other dignified craft. And she will be proud of her cooking, the management of her nursery, the simple, artistic beauty of her bouse. A-s a training for living Household Science is the safest risk in the list of girls’ vocations.
The second article of the series will be “If She Wants to Be a Doctor.’'
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