MARCH 31, 1954
PORTLAND, Ore., Tuesday—As I arrived at Columbia University on Friday afternoon, I was presented by some of the students from Barnard with a copy of the Barnard Bulletin in which they had covered "The changing role of women in America from 1754 to 1954." The young lady who handed the bulletin to me said that this was the story of the way women had come out of the home and entered into all kinds of professions and careers.
Their editorial states: "If the history of women over the last 200 years shows anything, it is that women have made more progress socially, economically and politically than any other group whose rights and privileges were once severely restricted in this country."
This is true, but I think one thing should be said. Women have made great advances not only here but in many other countries of the world, but I do not think that they are made along the lines of leaving the home and substituting other activities. I think activities within the home have changed and therefore women have been able, not only to have their homes and do their jobs in the homes, but also to take part in the broader life of the nation.
This is a rather important difference, because whatever women do they have a special function in life. They bring children into the world and they are closer to them than the father. This is not to minimize the father's role, only to emphasize the closeness of the mother and the child.
Today I read that a religious group had emphasized the fact that a working mother was not desirable because she was not able to give the proper care to the children in the home. I think it is important to emphasize the fact that mothers have a primary job, particularly in the earliest years of their children's lives, but the circumstances surrounding the home today are very different than in former years.
Life and civilization have greatly changed and therefore the woman's life has changed. She has extended her influence to the wider fields which are now accessible. She can have a career even if she is a mother, for if the family plan their lives together, no one will suffer. It must be a joint understanding in which all work together.
The Barnard Bulletin will give every woman a lift in its chronicle of the successes of women in many lines. We do not often see such a complete coverage of the areas in which women have moved forward. There is far greater opportunity and choice for the women of today and everyone of us should rejoice in our freedom and in the potential freedom that is coming to women all over the world.