My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. —The Girl Scouts of America have just reported on their findings in a nationwide survey made to discover the real personal and social interests and aspirations of girls from 11 to 18.

The Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research conducted this study under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth Douvan and the supervision of Dr. Stephen Withey, program director of the center.

Nearly 2,000 girls were selected scientifically as good samples of those in school grades 6 through 12. The survey covered the girls' hopes and worries, their relations with parents and friends, dating, plans for education, work and marriage.

The Girl Scouts consider this survey only the first, however, in an undertaking in which they hope to discover not only the needs of adolescent girls but the ways in which these needs can be met. The second part of the survey will deal specifically with the Girl Scout program and its service to girls.

I think this is a valuable survey but covers only a rather limited group of young Americans, for to be a Girl Scout a child must belong to a group a little above the average. Many, many families cannot afford the uniforms and many do not see any value in giving thought and time to this kind of work for their children.

So it was not a surprise to me to learn that, on the whole, the particular group of girls included in this survey planned to continue their education, to work for a time before marrying, and wanted white-collar jobs not only for themselves but for their husbands.

Only seven percent of those interviewed want to marry men who work in factories, on farms, or at a trade or craft. It is obvious, however, that by far the largest number of women in this country are going to marry men in one of these categories.

White-collar jobs do not yet occupy the great mass of people in our country. Women are going to live on farms and they, as well as their husbands, are going to work in factories. They also are going to work at trades and crafts.

In many cases they will earn higher salaries than the white-collar workers, and it perhaps is more important for them to learn the value of education and to have resources and interests outside of their jobs.

This survey is valuable, however, for the girls that it touches. I was glad, too, to find that many of the girls, in considering their future work, wanted "steady employment, interesting work, and nice people to work with more even than they wanted high pay and quick promotion."

Most of these girls obviously look upon their working years as temporary; they expect to be married and so whatever they do is in preparation for that future.

But it was amusing to find that while 94 percent expect to get married, only three percent said they wished to be housewives. Poor children! It soon will be obvious to them that you cannot escape being a housewife if you marry!


(Copyright, 1957, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • North Manchester [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 17, 1957

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.