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The Employment of Women: Conservative and Liberal Views (1872)

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for the ladies will eventually withdraw from their position, “which after all does not constitute women’s actual calling in life. Yes, indeed, if one could erect barriers, if there were a certain age at which women were absolutely safeguarded against getting married, then settling this issue would be quite simple. But I think [ . . . ] that such an age will be difficult to find. On the other hand, to have female postal officials on the verge of employment sign binding agreements to forgo marriage would be cruel to the younger ones and would violate natural law.”

Nevertheless, as commendable as the trend in women’s educational and occupational associations may be, he [Stephan] had to ask himself:

“whether this entire matter was not being approached from the wrong angle. If – instead of supporting unpromising activities aimed at women’s direct entry into public life, where they do not belong by nature – it were possible to focus all energy and means on helping men reach the goal of a profitable job more easily, then this would put women in a better position to get married, and surely the women would be more powerfully drawn towards their natural vocation. In such cases, they would not need to follow paths that stray from women’s calling.” The best provision for women at the post office, according to Stephan, was to marry a postal official.

Dr. [Wilhelm] Löwe (Progressive Party, later German Radical Party)
[According to Dr. Löwe:]

The Postmaster General did not put forth any objective reasons for not employing women, “instead [Stephan advanced] only general views about women in general, which, in my opinion, are based on prejudice.”

With respect to the mixed clientele and “unseemly transactions,” women should decide for themselves whether they are distasteful to them or not.

“However, as long as you provide no law that mandates good family morals – one prohibiting girls from becoming shop clerks, waitresses, or even barmaids, [one prohibiting them] from serving in beer parlors or interacting with guests in restaurants and pubs – then I believe we have no right to demand from the state such prudery as to prohibit women from standing behind a counter to receive letters simply because they might be asked to engage in conversation with traveling commercial clerks.

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