There is the successful upper stratum of our much-celebrated pioneers who, as representatives and higher civil servants, as leaders of large occupational groups, can count on an economically secure old age. They might wish to report on how old they were when they entered the economic competition, how much money had to be invested in their rise until, in the critical years, they were no longer dependent on superiors and co-workers who refused employment to every woman getting on in years. There are the young academicians, who got their positions as research assistants only because they could also type. The host of female white-collar workers who, to keep their positions, have to maintain a standard of living corresponding to 250 marks a month on an income of 150. Additional duties in some form or other are usually an implicit part of their job.
Working women in general are also blamed quite often for accidents in the work place. If the daily rhythm of work is ever broken by the time-consuming effects of affairs of the heart, it seems to scream for the elimination of the disturbing female element. As if private emotional complications are not equally capable of interfering with male performance at work. Unfortunately, management science has not yet ascertained how much working women can enhance productivity by combining profession and love.
The truth about the living and working conditions of the contemporary woman is to be found in part in the publications of occupational associations. A new survey entitled Working on Typewriters determined that most stenographers and typists are completely exhausted after ten or fifteen years in the profession. But the best studies and most valuable monographs do not receive as much publicity as the eternal optimism that is always gushing forth from prominent positions in the name of the gender as a whole. When, for example, the public-speaking trainees of Madame von Kardorff take the stage as the new female youth to rediscover “women’s grand political mission,” then the appropriate male reaction can scarcely come as any surprise.
It is high time to do away with the fiction of the united front of all working women. All the propaganda for the vague concept of women’s work as such is distressingly mixed up with the victory cry for gains long since accomplished and works only to destroy the good will of the other side. If women would quietly invest the same intensity in encouraging their colleagues of both genders within individual occupations, better working conditions could probably be achieved for everyone.
Source of English translation: Hilde Walter, “Twilight for Women?” (1931), in The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, edited by Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg. © 1994 Regents of the University of California. Published by the University of California Press, pp. 210-11. Reprinted with permission of the University of California Press.
Source of original German text: Hilde Walter, “Frauendämmerung?,” Die Weltbühne 27 (July 7, 1931), pp. 24-26.