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THE question of the Medical Education of Women has just gained an important step in America. The great Harvard University which has held aloof so long, has just accepted a legacy left to it on condition that women be allowed the free use of the Medical School.
In a letter to the South Wales Daily News January 31st, Mrs. Hoggan points out that university education for women in Wales, the need of which was so earnestly pointed out by the education commission, will be more easily obtained by a system of co-education, than by establishing a separate college. She says:
The question of higher education is now a burning one in Wales, and it is satisfactory to know that there are many who desire to see the Principality take its proper place side by side with England, Scotland, and Ireland, in affording to the youth of both sexes those educational advantages without which they must be left behind in the race of life, notwithstanding their naturally good abilities, and, in some respects, more than average aptitude, to say nothing of the loss which all incur who miss the refining influences of culture and the intellectual enjoyments which spring from it. It seems certain that at the new University College for South Wales, wherever located, provision will be made for the admission of female students. This brings us at once to the consideration of the co-education of the sexes, and it may be useful to review briefly what has been done in this direction in America and other countries, to see how far the conditions and results are likely to be similar in Wales, and what safeguards are needed to ensure the success of the system there.
In the United States the now common, but by no means universal, system of co-education grew out of the needs of the people and not out of any pre-conceived notion of superior utility. Poor and scattered settlements could not afford more than one teacher, and often not that for more than a few months in the year. The choice, therefore, lay between sending girls to the common school, or not sending them to school at all, so of course the first alternative was adopted. At first all common schools were taught by men, but gradually this also changed; and since the American war, which thinned so lamentably the ranks of male teachers, women have been employed in increasing numbers, and with marked success, as teachers of mixed schools, as well as of girls' and infants' schools. At the present time they far outnumber the male teachers.
University co-education was a very natural outcome of co-education in the common school. The means of the supporters of the Western Colleges did not admit of their keeping up a separate staff of professors for their daughters, and yet they were shrewd enough to see that higher education for clever, promising girls would be not only an intellectual benefit, but also a commercial advantage to them. Women were, therefore, admitted first to Oberlin, where co-educa
tion has now been carried on for nearly half a century with acknowledged success, and afterwards to other colleges. This system is growing in favour in the United States, although it has not interfered with the simultaneous growth of special colleges for women, of which Vassar College is the best known, and one of the most successful. We well remember to have read many years ago the account given by a French delegate, officially sent to enquire into the working of University co-education in America. He went, as he himself confessed, imbued with the strongest prejudice against it, and believing that it must inevitably lead to the gravest abuses; but he was constrained, after wandering night after night round the precincts of one of the colleges, in the expectation of discovering clandestine meetings between the students of different sex, to admit that he was mistaken, that no disorders occurred, and that the results he witnessed were of the most favourable kind. President Angell, of the Michigan University, expressed himself as follows, in 1880:"After nine years' experience in co-education, we have become so accustomed to see women take up any kind of university work, carry it on successfully, graduate in good health, cause no embarrassment in the administration of the institution, and awaken no especial solicitude in the minds of their friends or of their teachers, that many of the theoretical discussions of co-education, by those who have had no opportunity to examine it carefully, read strangely to us here on the ground. It is a cause of sincere congratulation that both in this country and Europe the opportunities for women to obtain as extended an education as men are rapidly multiplying.'
In Switzerland women have for the last fifteen years been admitted without restriction as university students, and have attended the mixed classes of the medical and other faculties. At Zurich the second woman student, and the first from Great Britain, was a Welshwoman. Some of the preliminary classes in natural science are very large, and include students both from the University and the Polytechnic (the great technical school of the Swiss Federation). One of the most eminent professors of the medical faculty, when written to by an Edinburgh professor on the subject, gave it as his experience of the results of admitting women students to the university, that the general tone of the students had been improved; and when, in consequence of a political agitation in which Russian students of both sex were involved, the Russian Government recalled by special ukase the Russian women students, the medical faculty of the university of Zurich publicly protested against the wrong done to deserving students by that act. In Holland, when the first woman doctor (then a girl of seventeen) wished to study medicine, she and her father made application to the head of the Educational Department, and permission was granted her to attend a public grammar school, there to pursue the necessary preliminary studies. In France women are admitted to all the university teaching on a perfect footing of equality with men, and no subject is taught in separate classes. In England there are many mixed classes for university teaching, but the preference appears so far to have been for separate classes for women, although, wherever the experiment of co-education has been tried with English students, it has been perfectly successful.
ENGLISH WOMAN'S REVIEW.
No. CVII.-MARCH 15TH, 1882.
ART. I. THE HOUSE OF LORDS AND THE SHOP HOURS REGULATION BILL.
THE news of the withdrawal of the Earl of Stanhope's Bill for the Regulation of Shop Hours sounds in the ears of the women who have already a hard struggle to earn for themselves a sufficient livelihood, like a reprieve from capital sentence. For one year longer they may bring their labour to the same open market as men do, and possess equal freedom to make the best bargain they can for themselves. "Protection" sleeps for another session, but next year the danger will menace us again, and new efforts must be made to secure for women that freedom of contract from legislative control, under which alone labour can be carried on successfully.
The Bill to regulate the Hours of Labour in Shops and Warehouses provided that "whereas many women and young persons are grievously injured in health, by reason of the present labour in shops and warehouses for the sale of textile fabrics and articles of wearing apparel, after the first of January next, no such shops where women and young persons are employed should be open for more than ten hours in each day," though to meet the exigencies of the season trade, the Secretary of State for the Home Department might grant an extension of time of two hours to any establishment
making an application therefore for sixty days in the year, coupled with the burdensome condition that the employers receiving such permission must forward an intimation to the Home Office each night that the extension is taken advantage of.
The Bill was illogical to begin with. If long hours are so injurious to women that the State is obliged to over-ride all those considerations of individual liberty, so deservedly dear to the English heart, taking them under its control as if they were children, why attack only the shops where textile fabrics are sold? Provision shops employ a large number of women, and are open much longer than ten hours. The bars of public houses and gin palaces are chiefly served by women, and they are open for a longer time than any shops. Why not, above all, legislate for domestic servants who are, with comparatively few exceptions, women, and enact that the housemaid should not begin to light her fires before 8 a.m., or wash up the teacups after 6 p.m., unless upon sixty days in the year, and that the little maid-of-allwork, who is generally a "young person" in legal phrase, shall not be allowed to answer any lodger's bell after the regulation ten hours? The answer would be prompt. The enormous inconvenience to the employers of domestic labour would make such supervision and control impossible, and a similar consideration for the convenience of customers was the basis of the objections raised by some of the noble peers against the Bill.
Two Right Honourable Members of the House, the Duke of Somerset and Earl Fortescue, however, opposed the Bill for sounder reasons. "It should be borne in mind," said the former, "that women found it very difficult to obtain employment, and the Bill would probably have the result of still further reducing their opportunities of service." Earl Fortescue went even deeper into the principle, while he approved of limiting by law the employment of children and young persons, 'it was a different thing" he said "to interfere with the employment of women." We owe him gratitude for recognising, as so very few of our well-meaning legislators do recognise, that adult women may be safely trusted
to look after their own interests-that while it is the duty of the State to protect its children and minors, who are unfit to exercise their own judgment and freewill, its sole duty towards adult men and women is to leave them free to protect themselves, to take away, rather than to impose, restrictions and limitations which lower the value of their labour, and therefore lessen their chance of disposing of it at a fair price.
It is one of the first principles of political economy that the duty of government being to render secure the property of its subjects, and their industry being their most undeniable property, all interference of government with the direction of industry is a violation of its duty towards its subjects. This is understood with regard to men's labour; no government would now be tolerated for a session which should attempt to curb by arbitrary legislation the right of an "adult male" to the control of his own industry. The case is different with "adult female" labour. kindly-intentioned legislators, hold that a woman is not competent to protect herself, that she must not make a contract for as much of her time as she chooses, that she must not undertake every sort of employment she may feel herself competent to--that, in short, her industry shall have an arbitrary value fixed by law, irrespective of the demands of the labour market, or her own capacity for toil. We need not have recourse to theory to see how these restrictions would at once lessen a woman's chance of employment. It is not only the arbitrarily shortened hours which an employer of female labour would be compelled to submit to, though in these days of keen competition it needs but a small acquaintance with arithmetic to ascertain that it would be better worth his while to pay higher wages to men assistants and keep his shop open as long as he likes, than to have cheaper labour with the disadvantage of compulsory closing. Many a shopkeeper would dismiss his female hands at once on this ground alone, but there is more than this. A prohibitory law cannot be carried into effect without an army of inspectors. Indictments and prosecutions would multiply fast. Fines would be imposed for each offence which