SIR,-It is time that a summingup was attempted in the debates concerning women's pay and education. Ridding ourselves of the preconceived prejudices. which both sides have brought to this argument and the mounting tide of un-Christian-like irritation which prevents clear thinking, the following facts emerge.
Women ask only the just wage for the job. If the just wage is what d single man gets and the woman is doing the same work, she asks for that wage. If it is impossible for the married man to support a family on that wage. the fault lies with the existing system of taxation, provision of wives' and children's allowances. health and maternity benefits, etc., and it is high time that Catholics, married and single. got together to press for these faults in the economic system to be put right. But there is no justice in arguing as if all men are married and supporting families (in fact, six out of 10 adult men of working age have no dependent children) and as if all single women had no dependants. The confusion arises because many people seem to think that women are claiming equality of income (which would be palpably unjust) when in fact they claim an equal reward where there is equal work. Thus energies arc dissipated in a fruitless quarrel, and dissipated tragically, because until the Injustice of unequal rewards for equal services (with its concomitant evils) is rooted out of our economic system, men and women will not combine all their energies to avert the dangers which increasingly beset family life. Fortunately, however, the principle of just rewards, whatever the sex of the worker, has been accepted in numerous professions', and it is only a matter of time before this controversy will appear as stale as those which raged in the past over the establishment of equal voting rights.
So to the second controversy-the education of women. We do not need statistics to tell us that most women marry and find happiness in the home; hut that does not mean that no woman needs the mental and spiritual broadening which higher education can give. There will always be some who will not marry; there will be others who will need to work, perhaps for many years, before they marry. If they will profit by higher education, and if it can be given them, are they to be denied it? And who is to say, when she is 18. into which of these categories a girl's lot will fall? No one wants to force a girl into higher education if she does not want it; but if she does want it, and it is otherwise possible for her, is she to be denied it simply because of her sex? Will not that create bitterness of spirit and the kind of discontentment that we are trying to guard against? Good education enriches the personality and makes the person better able to deal with the problems of living; this is as true of higher education as it is of the lessons a child first learns at the mother's knee. We look with horror on anyone who starves the young of bodily nourishment; we should look with equal horror on those who attempt to deny the young their mental nourishment.
Finally, judging from the recent correspondence, there seems to be a campaign on foot to denigrate and belittle the valuable contribution to society which women can make outside the home. Our Lord did not scruple to remind us that there is a higher goal than being "occupied with much serving." In contrast to those who seek to generate in women a feeling of guilt if they look outside their homes and into the world, let us praise those women who so unselfishly do the other jobs that need
to he done-sometimes in addition to, sometimes instead of, becoming home-makers for a family. and often at considerable personal sacrifice.
And before anyone denies that there is any other job for a woman to do besides home making, let him or her read the Encyclical, Women's Duties in Social and Political Life. Its message seems urgently needed.
Margaret C. Clarke Flat F, 260 Finchley Road, N.W.3.
In Later years
SIR.-As one whose memory goes back to a time when university training for women was, if not a novelty. still by no means taken for granted, perhaps I can fill in the picture a little. For one thing. I met a fair number of women, older than myself. who envied me the mental training they could have used to better purpose perhaps than I. These women-even in my callow days I noticed this-had a personal quality lacking in those who had been "through the mill": but they had also suffered a curious wastage of power through having to spend so much time on finding out how to educate themselves.
Another group that interested me was older women who had been to the university, then married and brought up children, and who were facing that curious blank in a woman's life Which comes after her biological task is done. It seemed to me that it was here that good education most showed its value. At that period. one could still see examples of the older solution: wrap them in shawls. persuade them into semiipvalidism and park them by the fire for 20, 30. 40 years-who cared? With this frustration under my eyes, began to feel that one great object of girls' education should be that phase when the family is out in the world. After all, one of the problems of women's lives is that their period of biological significance, though more intense than a man's. is also shorter than his-as if Nature cornmsated them for the absoluteness of her demand by giving them time to themselves later. What struck me was that the university educated women, while inferior to none as mothers, showed more resource and resiliency in utilising this later period. Their motherliness easily found a wider sphere in which their educatedness made them of real value.
I should have liked to discuss the matter from the angle of experience in the East, which does not, I think, endorse the idea that ignorance is favourable to successful motherhood. But that is a complex issue, Of course I know that Elspeth Orchard did not mean to advocate total illiteracy; but if she had ever met it at close quarters. the dominant factor in the landscape, she might have a standard of comparison by which to assess how much we owe to education ourselves. But this is too big a aubject to pursue now. Still, perhaps we should remember that ignorance is not a new prescription, but something tried on a world-wide scale and everywhere found wanting.
Margaret T. Moore
Mother and Graduate
Sra,-Referring to Mr. Norman's letter in the May 28 issue, may I point out that it is surely a minority of both sexes who benefit from a university education. All education is a training for life, and vocational education should usually be sought at a technical college where every
kind of training is available either for industry or for home-making skills.
Mr. Norman refers Miss Kent to Quadragesimo Anno. On my part I would like to refer him to statements of Pope Pius XII. Speaking to Italian Catholic women workers (August 15. 1945), to French and Italian women before going to the poll (October 21, 1945; broadcast), and to the International Catholic Women's Leagues (September 11, 1947), .on all three occasions His Holiness spoke in favour of equal pay-on the first occasion in the following terms : "The Church has always held that women should receive the same pay as men for equal work and output. To exploit female labour would injure not only the women, but also the working man, who would thus risk being out of work."
I would also like to reassure poor, frightened Mr. Norman that although a life-long member of St. Joan's Social and Political Alliance, my husband and four sons get on quite happily with me.
Isabel Powell Heath, M.B., Ch.B., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. Wymeshead, Kegworth, Nr. Derby.
Sut,-A modern university education can hardly be recommended for our young Catholic women. It cannot even be highly recommended for men either. What is the object of a university education today? To deepen one's understanding? No. To train the mind to think properly? No. To give one a comprehensive view of the universe? No. Then what is the purpose or object of a university education? Nobody knows; and for that matter. the academic world doesn't seem to care either. By their fruits ye shall know them; so that the "purpose" of modern universities seems to be to sharpen the critical faculty and direct it to the destruction of the faith, hopes and ideals which were once the basis of civilisation. which in turn nurtured the old universities. Technical colleges and institutes are now gradually replacing universities. This is surely a good thing, for the former at least have a definite purpose in their existence.
T. Herlihy 17 Queensborough Terrace, W.2.
Education and Education
Stft,--T am writing to support very strongly that most sensible and human letter from Mrs. Orchard, which 1, personally, have cut out and retained as a precious document confirming that the spirit of matrimony and motherhood is not completely lost. Her point of view is, I think, quite right. A university graduation is not higher education (which means a complete school education); it is a preparation for a professional or technical career. If one has not cornpletely and freely decided to follow that career, why then go into all that trouble, hard work and expense? For a normal woman, that choice is never complete because at the back of her mind there is always the natural desire to get married. But to be a good mother and a good wife is a full-time job. You cannot serve two masters-the exacting and rightful boss in the office and the no-less exacting but legitimate bosses in the home. One of the two will eventually suffer, and it would be a pity if it was the family, the nucleus and living cell of society.
E. V. Vassallo Barnet.