Woman's View SiR,-Only a recent convert to the doctrine of equal pay for equal work, I read with profound and ever increasing respect Mr. Searfe's masterly resume of the pros and cons of a now hoary question. A clear analysis of his views, however, served only to impress upon me (and upon a number of my fellow women undergraduates) the cottonwool confusion of his arguments and of those of the other gentlemen die-bards of Strawberry Hill Side by side with the demands of economic expediency, he ranges appeals of feminine sentiment and generosity, and even, if I understand him correctly, a veiled threat to our hopes of a catholic marriage. Indeed, he ventures to serve up a diluted version of the oldest of all masculine gambits: "Women do not know their own interests: they are far better off as they are." Perhaps the economic argument is the strongest; women, who do not in fact consider themselves the natural enemy of men teachers, would continue to bear the injustice with patience, if the married man stood really to suffer by the proposed modification in the scale of salaries for the teaching profession: they have waited many a long decade as it is for equal pay.
My personal resentment, however,
was amused by Mr. Scarfe's tacit assumption that women teachers can be divided into two exclusive categories: the gay, globe-trotting bachelor-girls, who, in the fulness of years develop without exception into the comfortably-settled, selfish, and (dare I?) frustrated spinsters who offer such scope for a somewhat questionable brand of humour. Like other women in my position, I hope to become a teacher in the near future; I entertain an equally pious hope, however, to become a wife and mother one day; and whether I marry teacher, librarian or collier, I am quite certain that a contribution to the family coffers will not only be acceptable but very necessary. Surely Mr. Scarfe realises that a serious-minded young woman contemplates marriage with as much practical common sense as a young man: indeed the limited experience I have already acquired of the staff room leads me to 'believe that the unmarried woman teacher faces such responsibilities even earlier than the young bachelor from college, who generally marries later than the woman.
Not all women, however, find their vocation in marriage; and may I repeat the spinsters' claims which are so often stressed, and generally ignored.
For many women, the care and support of old or infirm relatives, father, mother or spinster aunt, has banished all hopes of marriage. Surely Catholics would not hold that such women are any less entitled to preferential treatment than the schoolmaster: is their duty any less sacred than the founding of a family? "A hard case," the men say; principles cannot be based upon the exigencies of the hard case. Of course they are right. There are, however, hard cases to be found on each side in this controversy, perhaps the hardest being that of the struggling master with his family. But we as Catholics strive to define and attain what is just in principle, disentangling from it emotional and sentimental side-issues, just as we have done in the "Mother and Child" controversy and in the Church's teaching on divorce and contraception, where natural feelings and sympathies are not always to be relied upon.
Leave the economic considerations to the Chancellor. He, we may rest assured, will not consider equal pay in the teaching profession until it can be effected without danger to the country's stability or to the schoolmaster's wage-packet. The whole profession is underpaid, and in simple justice, the teachers demand an increase in their salaries; but they cannot expect to receive justice from others until they are unanimous in their own conception of justice, and until the last of the reactionaries like Mr. Scarfe have decided and consented to hold their peace.
Rita Quinn. (Queen Mary College, London.) 50 Goresbrook Road, Dagenham, Essex.