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Founding of the Association for the Encouragement of Employment Qualification among Members of the Female Sex (Retrospective, 1890)

The passage from this 1890 retrospective of the Association for the Encouragement of Employment Qualification among Members of the Female Sex, published on the occasion of its 25th anniversary, describes the association's focus on improving job opportunities for middle-class women. With a male founder and mostly male board members, the association was hardly a feminist or oppositional group. Nevertheless, it attracted notice as well as the support of the Prussian Crown Princess Viktoria.

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"The board and committee of the Central Association devoted its entire meeting on November 8, 1865, to considering the memorandum and, after careful consideration, they decided that the association was entitled and obligated to take up the women's question in the manner addressed in the memorandum, to work on its behalf in speech and writing, and to immediately arrange for a public discussion of this highly important matter in connection with the next general meeting.

A committee was established to consider the matter further. It worked very diligently and received numerous letters and suggestions from the public, evidence that the issue immediately met with broad resonance. At its meeting on November 15, 1865, the committee agreed to recommend the following statements for approval:

1. Although the work of women in the family is and remains the most original and important task of the female calling, gainful employment in commerce, crafts, and industry must not be closed to the female sex.
2. The female sex, which in Germany at this time is engaged in such employment in smaller numbers than in other countries, is perfectly suited for gainful employment in most commercial and technical tasks.
3. Since the wage should be determined by performance, there is no justification for paying the work of women less – given equal performance – than that of men.
4. In order to make those girls who wish to devote themselves to a commercial, craft, or industrial occupation on the basis of a thorough training more skilled for the task, and to make their work more lucrative, we recommend the establishment of schools for continuing (occupational) education for them.
5. The participation of female students in the instruction that is to be limited to necessary subjects should be left to personal discretion with respect to the various topics. The school, to the extent that it is necessary, has merely to provide the opportunity for learning.
6. In addition to classroom teaching, good preliminary preparation for the female students would be instruction in commercial and industrial enterprises whose owners are willing and able to do this.
7. Very desirable for achieving the desired success is the establishment of associations, especially women's associations, which, with assistance from elected men, pursue the above-mentioned ways and means of expanding and improving the areas of employment for women."

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