JUNE 16, 1939
NEW YORK, Thursday—There was one item in the paper yesterday which was extremely interesting to me. It appears that Governor Lehman signed a bill introduced in the New York State Legislature this past term by Assemblyman Jane H. Todd, Republican, which makes it permissable to have equal representation of the sexes on all political committees. This may be done by action of a county committee or of a state convention.
This representation, so far as the Democratic party in New York State is concerned, has been acknowledged and considered advisable for a number of years. It is quite true that there have been cases where, on county committees and in other positions, certain gentlemen have objected to giving women equal representation and, therefore, in such places there have been few if any women active in the party. Since, this bill is not mandatory, however, I cannot see how it really changes the present situation a great deal.
I feel quite sure that in the case of coveted positions on committees at state conventions, there will be considerable objection if any group of women attempt to obtain fifty-fifty representation! However, I suppose that having even a permissive law, rather than a party rule, is a step forward for the women, and I congratulate Miss Todd and the Governor on achieving this.
A number of people have written me in opposition to my stand that married women should be allowed the privilege of working. They plead with me to consider how cruel it is that these married women, with husbands well able to support them, should be taking jobs away from young people. They insist that most of these married women are simply doubling good incomes and acquiring luxuries for themselves. They think they are taking the bread out of the mouths of single women who are helping to support members of their families.
It sounds a bit hysterical, so let us consider the question calmly. Basically, is it wise to begin to lay down laws and regulations about any particular group? If we begin to say that married women cannot work, why shouldn't we say next that men with an income of more than a certain sum shall not work, or that young people whose parents are able to support them have no right to look for jobs? It seems to me that it is the basic right of any human being to work.
Many women, after marriage, find plenty of work in the home. They have no time, no inclination or no ability for any other kind of work. The records show that very few married women work from choice, that they are working only because a husband is ill or has deserted them, or there are special expenses caused by illness or educational requirements in the home. There may even be fathers, mothers, sisters or brothers to be supported. It seems to me that it is far more important for us to think about creating more jobs than it is for us to worry about how we are going to keep any groups from seeking work.
We left Hyde Park this morning a few minutes before nine, picked up Mrs. Henry Morgenthau, Jr., at the traffic light in Fishkill, and reached New York City in plenty of time for me to attend the luncheon given by the Ligue Internationale des Aviateurs in honor of Miss Jacqueline Cochran.