Page:University Education for Women.djvu/15

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UNIVERSITY EDUCATION FOR WOMEN

lowers any profession if it is entered with no motive but gaining money, and this must tend to happen if only those who need money are allowed to enter it or stay in it. No one would push the theory so far as to say that a woman with literary genius should refrain from writing or publishing if she had enough to live on without doing so. This would be too obviously absurd. The hollowness of the theory can also be shown by applying it to the case of men. Take the case of salaries to members of the House of Commons which that House has recently decided to pay. Would any of us say that it was wrong for a man to offer himself for election if he did not need the salary? On the contrary, we say that the possibility of his seeking election for the sake of the money is a danger for the community which needed very serious consideration in deciding to pay salaries at all.

I conjecture that the scruple felt by women about taking paid work belongs to a transition state out of which we are passing but have not yet quite passed. The idea of any woman of the professional classes working for pay except in cases of extreme necessity is comparatively new, in this country at least. In old days those who did not marry were supported by their relations, and only when this support failed did they seek paid work, for which they had often had no preparation and were not at all well qualified. The work was taken as a pis aller—refuge for the destitute. The teaching of girls and young children was very apt to fall into the hands of such unqualified women because there were so few well qualified. As through the growth of public opinion under the influence of pioneers like Miss Buss, Hiss Beale, Miss Clough, Miss Davies, both the dignity of work and the unsatisfactory state of girls' education and the need of better qualified teachers came to be recognised, girls began to prepare for the profession. It inevitably followed that the unfortunates without qualification for the work though in great need of the pay were thrown out in competition. The tragedy of this is not yet over, and I think still influences