SEPTEMBER 29, 1951
HYDE PARK, Friday—Under the auspices of the American Council on Education a two-day session—the national conference of "Women in the Defense Decade"—has been going on in New York City on the proper use of the woman power of this nation. Yesterday afternoon I sat on a panel and heard a most excellent speech by Dr. Robert E. Cushman of Cornell and some good questions by some of the consultants.
There was a surprising unanimity in the feeling that we were not measuring up to the highest standards in our civil obligations. All agreed that women had proved their ability to work in factories and in the professions on the same level as men. There seemed to be very little disagreement with the proposition that most women ran their homes efficiently, cared for their children well, made an effort to improve the cultural and educational standards of their community and did a remarkably good job in their charitable obligations.
As I was coming out, however, one lady said to me: "I wonder, since there are so many women today who work outside the home as well as run a home, how they can possibly live up to good standards in the cooperation between husband and wife and in the planning."
It is obvious that the woman who works outside the home cannot spend as much time with her children on working days as the woman can who stays at home. But most women work five days a week and if they make enough to have someone help during those five days, the children can be cared for and the weekend can be managed without too much household drudgery so that a greater part of the time can be given to real companionship between the parents and the children.
It is also possible, with careful planning and training, to make the children accept certain responsibilities in the home. In many ways this has advantages, because they do get a sense of being an important part of the home life, and that sense of belonging and being needed is one of the most satisfying things for old and young.
I got home from the conference in time to greet Madame De Gasperi and some members of the Italian Prime Minister's party. Later I met the Minister of Defense and, finally, the Prime Minister and more members of his party.
Madame De Gasperi has a lovely face, but I thought that all the visitors, including the Prime Minister, looked rather weary. We were quite evidently doing as we always do with foreign visitors; that is filling their days with engagements! I always think they must get on a plane or on a ship with a sigh of relief when their visits are over. I only hope that in retrospect it looks less wearing than it did while they were here.
The Prime Minister was much pleased over the ceremony in Washington when the President spoke at the dedication of the two great Italian sculptured figures that were placed at the entrance to Memorial Bridge and he feels that his trip here has built up a friendly spirit for his country.