MISS MARY MACMAHON PLACES TEN THOUSAND BUSINESS GIRLS EACH YEAR
WOMEN and THEIR WORK
She Has Splendid Opportunity for Sizing Up Girls Who Seek Positions in the Work-a-day World. She Differentiates Between the Girl More Interested in the Amount of Pay Than in the Job, and Girl Who Places Work First
DOROTHY G. BELL
“HELLO! Mr. Jackson, is it? Yes. No. I’m afraid I haven’t anyone with exactly those qualifications. The demand is so much greater than the supply that they are very scarce. I think I have one here, though, who would quickly pick up your work. I know just what you want. Anyway, I’ll send her up in the morning.—Well, no, Mr. Jackson, this one will be worth more than that.-— Yes, I think that would do.” Miss Mary MacMahon hung up the receiver of her desk telephone, that had rung for the twentieth time that morning. Sheywas not selling ships or automobiles
or other mechanical merchandise negotiable in terms of the feminine gender. She was bargaining for the kind of a job a good stenographer wants, and “selling” the kind of a stenographer a good business man wants, for that is her job as head of one of the biggest employment bureaus in Canada.
Miss MacMahon places ten thousand girls a year in busindss positions. Girls are her business, and she knows them from the tips of their round, square or pointed toes, to the tops of their blonde, auburn or brunette heads, and the things she likes most about them are their
youth, their exuberance, their enthusiasm and their ambition.
She made a note of this business man’s address, and raising her eyes glanced through the glass wall of her office at the line of expectant, eager faced, “jobless” secretaries. Her glance was casual, but as her eye ran down the line of waiting stenographers, she rapidly segregated and divided them into standard classes.
“Miss Jefferies.” Though she did not seem to raise her voice, Miss Jefferies rose from the bench without hesitation and entered the office.
“Anice positionfor you, Miss Jefferies,” said Miss MacMahon, handing her the slip of paper with the address on it. “Mr. Jackson, of Jackson, Strachan and Webb -—lawyers. He wanted a ‘legal’ girl, but there isn’t one among you. I didn’t tell him that your business training would he almost as good. He will find that out. Good luck. Let me know how you get along.”
Miss MacMahon did not question this girl’s ability. She knew it, and she had suggested a high wage because she was confident..that she would earn it. And the girl asked no questions because she knew and had relied before on this woman’s judgment. She took the slip and departed.
Again the ’phone rang. A Jewish clothier! His goods were not all first hand but his name was of good repute. With her ear still held to the receiver, her eyes searched again the line of girls outside her office. That pale girl, second from the far end, had said she was in need—but no. She was not the kind who would be happy in.the environment of that Jew's shop. Then half way down the line—“Yes, Mr. Isaacs, I can send you a girl in the morning.”
The receiver clicked and the second girl was called.
“What’s the pay?”
SHORN of her "crown of glory,” a bit too heavily rouged and insufficiently heeled and hosed for the inclement weather, the first thing this giri asked was, “What’s the hours and what’s the pay?”
“The hours and pay will suit you, and you will be able to do this man’s work. I think,” assured Miss MacMahon. The girl was satisfied and took the position.
A third ring on the ’phone and the third stenographer was called into the office.
“What is the work?” she enquired. Her voice was quiet and pleasing. Her clothes were neat and trim.
“The company is small but sound,” Miss MacMahon told her. “You will like the manager and I think you will find that you can work up with the business.” “That is the opportunity I am looking for,” answered the stenographer, and accepted the place.
Miss McMahon has girls of every kind, class and condition come to her office, but as far as she is concerned, professionally, they divide themselves into two classes, those who ask about hours and pay, and those who ask about work.
“You may be sure that those who ask first about the hours and the pay have their eye on the matrimonial market, and do not intend to take their work very seriously,” said Miss McMahon. “Those.
however, whose first interest is their work are usually ambitious, and above everything else in the business girl I love her ambition. She cannot always have youth, but she can always have ambition, and with it she can win. There are few who will not help an ambitious girl to make her goal.
“Work ages and wears out too many girls. It should not. The harder they work the younger they should look. One of the secrets of this is to keep physically and mentally fit. That should not be difficulty do. A walk to and from the office night and morning—if it is not possible to get more outdoor exercise— reasonably early hours and regular meals should accomplish it. There is just one other thing that will help to keep them young—the one thing that is more apt to bring them success than any other. That is happiness. To be happy in their work should be every business girl’s first effort. I never think I have placed a girl well unless she is happy.”
How To Be Happy
THERE are always ways of attaining that happiness,” Miss MacMahon smiled a genuine, happy smile. “Much,” she said, “depends upon the girl, of course, but the first secret is choosing the work in which it is most possible to be happy. False pride keeps many girls working as stenographers when they might make better dressmakers or sales girls. There would be much more happiness among the girls of the business world if they were like one of my acquaintance. She was a country girl, and she came to the city to take up a business course. She passed well and I had promised to place her with a good business firm. The glow of the outdoors was still in her cheeks, the sparkle of it in her eyes. Apparently she was enthused at the prospect of work, and anxious to find a position. Then one morning she came to me with her face clouded.
“ ‘Miss MacMahon,’ she said, T am going home.’
“ ‘Whatever for?’ I exclaimed.
“ ‘Well,’ she answered, ‘I’ve been standing on Main Street watching all the thin people go by. They look so cold and miserable, all of them, and I wondered why they didn’t eat the kind of things I used to eat at home—things that make you fat and warm. Then I just remembered that I had not eaten a meal like that myself since I came here, so I went into a restaurant and ordered all the good things I could think of. It cost me all the money I had, and now I know why people are so thin. It is because they can’t ^afford to eat in the city restaurants. I can’t afford it either, and I’ll soon get to look and feel like them. I don’t really think I could stand it, so I’m going home how, before it happens.’
“That girl was frank with herself, and undoubtedly saved herself and those around her a great deal of unhappiness. She would never have been happy in the city, and consequently, would never have become a success in business.
“To be intensely happy in her work a girl must have a love for the business, an intelligent understanding of the possibilities of her firm, and an ambition to help those possibilities materialize. She should have a consciousness of her obligations to her employer, a generosity in teaching those about her everything she knows, and, in turn, an inclination to learn what other people know.”
Typewriter Put Girls in Business
MISS MACMAHON declares that it is the typewriter that has put the business woman where she is to-day.
“The business woman began as a typist,” she said, “and from there she has worked up and gone to other fields. If the stenographer would only realize it, she has a better chance than almost anyone else in the firm to learn the business and get to the top. She is in constant touch with the manager. By taking his correspondence she is able to learn the basic principles of the business, benefit by mistakes and obtain a general working knowledge of the whole organization.
“Any girl with the interests of her firm at heart knows this. One girl I know began as an office girl and stenographer for a man who was starting out in the manufacturing line. The office was small and dirty, the locality was not choice, the desks were old and scratched, the salary was low and the work was heavy. I had sent at least half a dozen other girls to this
man but none of them would stay. This girl stuck to it, she did extra work, she advised him, helped him in the shop after hours. She was courteous and considerate to those who came and went, even through they did wear dirty clothes. Through ambition for her firm, adaptability to her surroundings and conditions, a continual cheerfulness in the face of difficulty and an ability to make the best of things that were not too good, she helped her boss build up his business. That was six years ago. To-day that girl is the head of a department, a director of the company, she occupies a big office of her own in a
SIX RULES FOR SUCCESS FOR BUSINESS GIRLS
1. Have an inclination and a love of your work.
2. Be thoroughly trained and keep up to date.
3. Don’t be afraid of hard work.
4. Play as hard as you work.
5. Don’t look for a career in work that is only a stepping stone.
6. Don’t be afraid to help those under you. Every time you impart knowledge to someone else you perfect your own views and create, for yourself and others, an impelling motive which results in advancement.
pretentious office building and in addition to owning exactly half the stock of the company she earns $9,000 a year.
“The business girl group is a most adaptable one. This little incident rather proves it,” continued Miss MacMahon.
“A friend of mine once urged me to go to a fashionable bazaar. ‘You must go,’ she said, ‘it is worth while just to see how capable those society women are. They have made a wonderful success of the thing. I would not have believed that society women could be so business-like, yet there was no mistaking those girls for anything else.’
“I am an admirer of system and my curiosity was piqued. I went to the bazaar and before I came away I found that more than half those women connected with it were girls whom I had, at some time or other, placed in business positions. They had married, and had adapted themselves so well that my friend, and undoubtedly others too, would never mistake them for anything else than society women. The success of the bazaar was greatly due to the fact that these girls had been able to turn their business training from offices to social functions.” This characteristic of the business girl is again emphasized by certain social service statistics, which prove that the night classes, composed of business girls, make quicker and better progress in their studies than the day classes of society girls.
Need Flapper In Business
MISS MACMAHON’S love of eternal youth has created a soft spot in her heart for the flapper.
“Undoubtedly they have their place in business, and the business world would be dreary without them,” she declared. “It is good for all of us to have them around, and as long as they are not beyond the flapper age, I don’t think we mind them— in fact, I think, we rather need them.
“A flapper once scored a point with me,” and Miss MacMahon laughed at the recollection. “I was about to send her out to fill a position. Her face wTas covered with powder. “Won’t you please wipe off some of that powder?’ I asked her.
“ ‘Why, yes, Miss MacMahon, if you really want me to.’
“ ‘Of course I want you to,’ I assured her, and she opened her vanity case and began re’uctantly to wipe off the powder.
“ ‘Why do you use so much powder?’ I quizzed, during the process of elimination. ‘It is not necessary and is not really nice. Now, I don’t use so much.’
“ T know it is not nice,’ she replied, ‘but I think you would look much nicer if you did use more of it.’
“That youngster scored a direct hit. According to her point of view, I would
look nicer with more powder on my face. Now, perhaps I would. I don’t think so. She does. I had never thought of it this way before. After all, it is the point of view. So I bought that girl a box of good powder. She used this, liked it and has done away for ever with the cheap powder, which is something.
Feminine Type Popular
OF ALL the types who apply to me I find that there are none as popular as the very feminine type. By that I do not mean the silly girl who is always trying to make herself popular with the men by drawing their attention to her‘feminine charms’ by wearing silly, fussy clothes, or unsuitable frocks to business. I mean, rather, one who speaks in a soft, refined, well modulated voice. Onewhowears neat, plain clothes, whose charm is her womanly personality, her understanding and sympathy. The masculine type is never a favorite in an office. Because she is a traitor to her own sex the women do not admire her, and because she is an imitation of the opposite sex the men dislike her. I do not find that the athletic girl is especially adapted to business. She is often impatient over detail work and finds the confinement of an office trying. Her lack of supersensitiveness and her clean, sporting spirit, however, are excellent qualities in a business girl. She is very often inclined to look upon her work as a game and consequently gets the maximum enjoyment out of it.”
Miss MacMahon was born in Hamilton, Ontario. Her first business position was that of secretary to Miss Lilian Vaux Evans, the famous interior decorator. She remained with her only a short time be-
fore she accepted a position as secretary to Stephen Hees, of the George H. Hees Co., Toronto. Then she went to the United Typewriter Company of Toronto. Her first duty there was to open and organize an employment bureau for business girls. That was twelve years ago. Miss MacMahon has been steadily building it up ever since, until to-day it has become a service of vital benefit to the business girls and the firms for which they work.
“When we first opened this bureau,” said Miss MacMahon, “the typist was considered a part of her machine. She was put away out of sight somewhere in a little dark corner, and considered herself very fortunate if she got $40.00 a month. That was considered, in those days, a good salary. To-day a stenographer’s wage ranges anywhere from $12.00 to $30.00 a week. A girl must be exceptionally expert to draw more than $30.00 a week for stenographic work. The competition now has become so keen that a girl without a High School education has a poor chance of obtaining a good position. The business girl is rapidly coming into her own, but she yet has far to go. If she would realize her opportunities and take herself more seriously, she would make even faster strides.
“What I find most deplorable in the modern business woman to-day is her lack of the appreciation of the beauty, the romance and the idealism of her work. These are the most beautiful things in life, and they are more necessary perhaps in business than in any other sphere of life, for the development of industry means much to a country and its future. A beauty, like hidden treasure, lies buried in every work. It is there to be dug up by those who would be happy.”