Women Must Justify Place in Business
Address at a woman’s convention
As a co-worker — a woman governor, walking where men have walked a lone and sitting along where men have sat — I know something of the struggles you have had and something of the obstacles you have overcome — struggles and obstacles the more difficult to conquer since you are women.
We have worked hard that women should be allowed their present places, but work, once accomplished, becomes only a background; our mistakes have been made that we may profit by them in the future, that our younger sisters and our daughters may benefit by our past.
To-day is the time when we may lay our plans for the future, when we may look well at the great problems that lie before all business women, for women have a greater problem than men. We are new to our work and we face the criticisms of those well-meaning masculine souls who gave us this new employment with just a little more than fear and trembling. They like us, do the men; they will all stand right up in meeting and declare that the world cannot get along with out us — but they are still a little worried that in some of the new work we seem to be able to get along without them.
We really cannot blame the men; they have had their own way wo long and we have cheered them so resoundingly that we have only ourselves to blame. And after all, they are a side issue in our future. They have given us our chance; now it is time for us to prove that our talk about the chance was not just talk. We have a serious business before us.
I believe that women may do great things for the business world. It is an old thing to talk of women’s intuition and her keen grasp on the little things of life. Yet wherever you find a successful woman, you find a woman who has taken her womanly ways along with her into her business world; a woman who has solved her problems with her heart as well as her head; a woman who has not allowed maudlin sentiment to overbalance her belief in kindliness and justice and fair play.
This does not mean that I condone the mannish woman. If a woman is going to be mannish, let her stay away from me. God made us women and gave us rare opportunities as women; let the men profit by their own peculiar little mannerisms. There is no excuse for the woman in business unless she is going to stay a woman there. If she is going to ape men, let her stay at home and let the men keep right on as they have been going. We made our pleas to get into the business world that we might better it. If we are going to do just as the men have done, we certainly cannot do better than they have done.
I heartily commend the woman who has the fighting heart in her, who will leave the peaceful, quiet ways of her grandmothers to battle against unknown odds, and who has the courage to keep on fighting until she succeeds. I congratulate her, I honor her, and I am proud of her. I am glad I live today, rather than fifty years ago, that I may see the things we women have started. Let us build wisely and well, that the next generations may go on to finer deeds and firmer building.
Source: Modern Eloquence, Vol. IV, ed. Ashley H. Thorndike, (New York: Modern Eloquence Corp.) 1928, pp. 219-220.
Also: The Advertising Yearbook for 1925, (Doubleday Page & Company for the Associated Advertising Clubs of the World) 1925, p. 348-349.