thumbnail of Prospects of Mankind with Eleanor Roosevelt; 310; What Status for Women
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Recorded in Washington National Educational Television presents the WGBH TV production. This is Eleanor Roosevelt prospects of mankind. Produced in cooperation with Brandeis University A far reaching the social revolution has completely changed the status of women in the past hundred years emerging from the home to work and study American women soon militantly demanded and won equal status and the right to vote. Their achievements since 1919 have been impressive. Higher education is commonplace and increasing number of women spend part of their life working. Some even do work traditionally performed by men. Adjustment to this great revolution has not been easy for either sex. Not completely happy being just a housewife, the American woman at the same time does not seem to be making the most of the rights her grandmother secured for her. Few American
women hold high office. Too few are entering professions where they are sorely needed. Sometimes those with do work receive less pay than men performing the same functions. President Kennedy recently created the Commission on the Status of Women to uncover these inequalities and recommend appropriate action. But in today's rapidly changing society the complex reasons behind women's apparent indifference to their opportunities and rights also need to be explored so that women can fulfill themselves, not only as wives and mothers, but as complete individuals. At the White House recently, President Kennedy discussed the Commission on the status of women with its chairman Mrs. Roosevelt. Mr. President I would like to thank you for being on this program. You probably don't realize it but in the three years that we have run this program, you have been our most distinguished guest.
and we are very grateful to you. I was glad to have you at the White House again, Ms. Roosevelt. Thank you, Mr. President. Now, I would like to ask you, because I have always been interested in women's affairs, and I was very much honored when you made me chairman of your new committee on the status of women. Perhaps you would be willing to tell the people what prompted you to name this committee at this time and what you feel is the real need for it. Well, we are attempting to make sure that the women, for example, who work, one-third of our working force are women, we want to try to encourage every company in the United States, and certainly, stimulate the governmental leadership in providing equal pay and equal conditions for women. 22 states do it now. We can do a much better job on that. We want to make sure that the available talent that we have in this country in trained women is being used effectively. I think we want to make sure that
some recognition is given to the special problems women have as the mother and the housewife and at the same time their desires to participate usefully in public and private life. This is a matter of great national concern and I think in this great society of ours, we want to be sure that women are used as effectively as they can to provide better a better life for our people. In addition to meeting there primary responsibility which is in the home. Thank you very much, I think that's a very good objective. But there is one thing that I think a great many are interested in, and that is to hear where women have, in in many ways a very much better situation than they have in other countries that still in some of the other countries women can be found in higher positions, policy-making positions, or legislative positions, than they are in this country. Have you and idea why it is that
in this country we have not Somehow managed or found people to put into these higher positions? Well, I suppose the first is the interruption in their careers that take place is the lives of most women because of their keeping a family and raising children. But I quite agree, I don't think we make the most use of our talent, not only in the government. And there are An awful lot of women that hold very key positions in in the government, I think. In fact, the other day when we gave the award for the five outstanding civil servants, two of them were women. Women of great technical skill. We have women in the U.N. delegation of which you are a distinguished example. And we have them as treasurer, but I still think we ought to do better. I think we ought to do better in the field of medicine, for example. The number of grils who are admitted to medical school and the number of practicing doctors, I don't think we do as good a job in this country as we ought to. We do better than a number of other countries
but not nearly as well considering the talented women that we have and the great need for doctors. I think they do a good job in teaching, but medicine is one of the great areas where I think we should stimulate. I think women make good doctors. They have the personal the qualities and the patience. I think to have 2 or 3 percent of each class admitted is a great lack. And I know I'm always getting letters from you, Mrs. Roosevelt, about getting women in these policy making job. We are very conscious of that responsibility. I'm very conscious of the fact that this ought to happen but I'm also conscious of the difficulties and I frequently, in answering foreign people saying that women, in this country, have greater difficulties because of our ways of life, that a woman in India has a multitude of family she can leave her children with because she lives with grandparents, sisters and brothers, and here, this is a great problem.
So I see all the problems, but I still think that we should use everything available and therefore I want to see women used, to the very best of their ability. That's the thing I'd like to ask you about We have this high standard and I think women set the standards in America for many things both for men and women. And in view of this, I'm wondering if American women are using their educations to the best possible advantage, or whether many women who don't want to leave their families who don't want to be an outside worker, still couldn't do a better job if they used their education better than they have. I think when you look at Radcliffe College, at the curve of academic excellence at Radcliffe, it is higher than it is at Harvard and therefore assume that this is really the most highly developed student body. What happens to those girls
two or three years later? They get married, many of them become housewives, and all that talent is used in this family life but is not used outside now. Of course. It is true that they work on school boards, they work in the league of women voters, they form and work in church groups. In a whole variety of ways, they use this talent for strengthening the cohesion of our society. I wonder whether they have the full opportunity to develop their talents and if, as the Greeks said, the definition of happiness is full use of your powers in the lines of excellence and I wonder whether they have that opportunity. And this is not true just of Radcliffe but colleges and educated women all over the country. Of course, one of the things that you've asked us to look at in the status of women is what services could be given which would make it easier to use to the maximum. Do you think before our report even is in that certain things are going to be done? Well, I think we're going to
wait. This, particularly the problem of how a mother can meet her responsibilities to her children and at the same time contribute to society in general is the most sensitive and important matter and I think that's why I'm really interested in what your suggestions would be. We do have legislation before you do make a report, for example, on the matter of equal pay and inter-state commerce, which I think would be very helpful. Yes, well that of course is one of the things we're all studying already, but I do think that we will make, this is one of the studies in our mission, that we are going to hope to find recommendations that will be of value. And I would like, I think as a last thing to ask you whether you have any objection to helping women to be employed from people who say that we should have more women taken out because there are unemployed men.
Well, most of the women who work really need to to maintain their families. That's the first point. Secondly, a good proportion work in areas which are really more suited to them that to men. The kind of work is, and in some cases the pay is, not competitive with men. I don't think that many women are working who are not contributing directly to the maintenance of the household, the family, the children. So I don't think there is a broad duplication. We have to meet this problem of unemployment for men and women and I think the way to do it is not to attempt to deprive women of the chance to work and contribute, but to try to expand the opportunity generally in the economy. I think that's the direction of our efforts, rather than squeezing the labor force. That is what I would say too. Now, I'm sorry but our time is up and I want want to thank you so much again, Mr. President. Well, we're glad to have a chance to.
I think the report of the commission can be extremely useful, and all the progress that has been made has been the results of these kind of periodic examinations of the status of women, both privately and in government, so it's very helpful. I'm hopeful, thank you again. Also in Washington to continue the discussion with Mrs. Roosevelt are Arthur Goldberg, United States secretary of labor. Before joining the new frontier, secretary Goldberg was a prominent labor lawyer and leading expert on labor management relations, extremely active since his appointment, he has interested himself in a variety of issues and spoken all over the country on widely assorted subjects. The president's commission on the status of women women comes under the jurisdiction of his department. Agda Russell, Sweden's permanent representative for the United Nations has long been concerned with women's affairs concentrating particularly on the problems of business and professional women. Before assuming her present position, Mrs. Russell was the president of the United Nations Commission on the status of Women.
Thomas Mendenhall, sixth president of Smith College for Women. Before coming to Smith in 1959, Dr. Mendenhall's entire career had been at Yale University where he had been a well-known history professor and administrator. Dr Mendenhall is the author of several books on English and general European history, and since his appointment to Smith has spoken frequently about women's problems. Here Mirra Komarovsky, professor of sociology at Barnard College and Columbia University. Her special fields of interest in research and teaching have been the family and the status of women. Dr. Komarovsky's latest book is :Women in the modern world: their education and their dilemmas. She will assist Mrs. Roosevelt in directing the discussion. I'm so glad that the President was interested enough in this question to appoint a commission on the status of women. So, Mr. Secretary: My first question is going to be to ask you in what areas
do you feel the commission can make recommendations that would offer something really new to American women. Mrs. Roosevelt, there are so many areas where I think constructive recommendations are called for. But it's hard really to define the limited areas that time permits to talk about. But I would say they're pretty well set forth in the presidential order setting up the commission and the importance of them is apparent from their listing. First we ought to talk about the Employment Policies of women in private employment where women get paid less than men for doing the same work. Why should that be? The Commission ought to study that and advise the American people about it. Women in the employment of the government, which is paid for by our taxes, men and women alike. They don't have their proper treatment. I won't say proportion because I don't believe in proportion. What inhibits the employment of qualified
women in federal state and local employment? Why should women be differently treated in their civil rights, in their property rights, in their political rights in their family relations? That's a subject we need to study. What about federal labor laws and state labor laws? Mrs. Roosevelt, you were one of the pioneers in getting special laws for women to protect them. Do we still need them or do we now emerge in a period where we ought to abolish discrimination and laws in favor of women? We want to study that. What about tax policy and social insurance? Should a woman have the same treatment as a man when they retire or be an appendage to a man in the social security sense? Do you want them to be independent in the biblical sense but not in the social security sense? What about tax laws? Women have earnings at various times of their life. We ought to study that too. What about new services that are
required for a new age? 24 million women are when the working force, one third as the president has said, of the working force now are women. Do we need new services? Should a working mother be worried if she has to work as most of them do, about what happens to her children? What do we do about that. This is one of the subjects that we ought to study. So I would say we have so many subjects Mrs. Roosevelt that even under your great leadership, I'm wondering, can we provide the studies and the answers that we need to provide in all of these important areas? Well of course Mr. Secretary, I'm interested, after we've written the report, in seeing that something is done. Now the commission comes to an end, But I'm still, that's one of the points, that I'm anxious about. But now I'd like to ask Ambassador Russell from Sweden, if she would tell us a little bit about developments in her country? Because
they have done a great deal in in this particular field of giving women the opportunity to do new things. Would you tell us something about it? Well first of all maybe I should say that the proportion of working women is about the same in my country as in your country. We have since many years tried to find out ways and means of making it possible for the women who want to, or must utilize their economic opportunities to make it possible for her to do it. That is to say we have built day nurseries for working women. We are trying to build houses where they can get half or fully prepared food that they can take home when they come from their work and pick up their children from the day nurseries. We are trying to get domestic help household workers who come and take
over if the children are ill so that the mother can go to her job, and they also can come and help, if the mother is ill, to take care of the children and the household. These are a few of the things we are trying to do. And maybe I should say in this connection, that the trade unions are the very key in that the day nurseries should be run by the community, not by the employer, because then they are forced to stay with the employer who gives them opportunities to use the day nurseries. They want detached, impersonal from the point of view of the employer's interests, and I think there is an agreement between the employer and the workers that this is the best way. Let me ask a question about day nurseries in cooperative housing. We have heard a good deal at one time about the spread of cooperative houses with nurseries and other services right in the housing. Has that developed or
did it turn out to be a brief? It is developing and I have had both my children in the day nursery of that type, and lived in a house of that kind. And may I say that it's very good for the children and for the mother with the feeling of security that the children are in good hands and well taken care of. Of course it's harder physical work for the mother because she then has to take care of all of the household work herself if she does not have a housemaid at home. But on the other hand, it's well trained personnel in the day nurseries and they stay there year after year, so the children have the same nurses. Don't you also have something, which I think was first developed in Sweden, and that is a hot meal for the children in the middle of the day or at some period of the day, which lightens the responsibility of the home to some extent? Do you mean the school children?
Yes. Every school child in Sweden has a hot meal in the middle of the day. Between 11 and 12 or 12 to 1 o'clock. Is it like a breakfast? Is it because children come without breakfast, or with a very light breakfast or is it a real midday, a real dinner? It's a lunch, lunch or dinner, whatever you want to call it. Everybody is supposed to have had breakfast before they leave their, homes and the school starts at 8 o'clock. So then they get the break around 11:00 11:30 and they have a hot meal. Well that is a service which has great value I think for children. Don't you think so? Indeed. I have just finished a year of interviewing of working class mothers and fathers and a working class community. It was the aristocracy of labor, they were all native born of native parentage, and all white, so they were not as disadvantaged
as some working class groups. And so what I think applies to them applies doubly to other groups. But my impression was that a development of nurseries and schools, perhaps under school educational auspices for children of four and five, would be of immense benefit if it can, if we can do it. Because a significant minority of the mothers were deeply troubled about their children and I think I would estimate that they were about two or three decades behind in their thinking about human behavior and about elementary principles of mental hygiene. And so whether they work or not, I think such nursery schools-- But what you're talking about, really is nursery school for three and four year olds, isn't it. Now I'm wondering
whether real nurseries aren't necessary. How young would the babies be for instance in Sweden when they would be put in these nurseries of which you speak. If they can be received by the day nurseries already at the age of a six to seven months. That early? Yes but preferably they should not come down before they one. So having a child might represent for a woman who was working in Sweden an interruption in her working life of perhaps six or seven months, at least? Well, the weeks and months before the child birth and then during the five to six months when she's nursing the baby herself. Can I make a point here which is reflects both of your discussions, Mrs. Roosevelt? To Mendenhall's point, it has been assumed too often that when a woman works, that this constitutes a disruption in family life. This of course is a matter I
think which would concern all of us. Now isn't what we're talking about a concern of perfecting, protecting family life, which means the welfare of the mother, the welfare of the child, and at the same time recognizing what turned out to me to be an astonishing fact when I started my own department. That nine out of 10 women in modern life will work at some point in their life, and that many of them will work by necessity, most of them. Or by choice, some of them, just at the point where children are being raised. So that brings us to the question of occupations. You see, now, where a woman who is educated, we'll come to education and type perhaps a little later, but she can practically go into any profession or any education any
any occupation that she is trained to undertake? But aren't some occupations, let's admit it, more suited for women than others? Are you going to argue that they're all equally suited, Mr. Secretary. Well I would argue about the desirability of having, in an open society, every opportunity for every person, man or woman, to opt to a profession. Agreed. On the other hand, we would be foolish to deny that for women, raising a family is a tremendously important thing. And I would certainly urge every woman to evaluate that enormous joy, in determining an occupation. I have a very good friend of mine who became a scientist and who opted for the field of science that required continuous
devotion to that science. She became a mother. And she opted then, as is her right and of course is her supreme joy, to spend the early years of life with the children. She has said to me that between two branches of science, thinking it over, she would have taken another branch that permitted her to go back, easily, to that other branch rather than the branch that she was in. Now, I think those are legitimate considerations because we all have to make choices in life of one kind or another, man or woman, in what we want to do. I will comment a little upon this. I agree entirely with you, Mr. Secretary. First of all, I think we should leave it to the women to make the choice and not choose for them and say you are not suited for this or that or this type of life is not suitable for you. Let her make the choice but give her the tools so she really can make a choice.
I would agree with you. Of course, it is a hardship, for a working mother. Of course it is. I have gone through it, I know what I'm talking about, and I've seen it in many cases. But maybe it's also a hardship to be forced not to continue with a job you're interested in and where you also feel that you are contributing to the society. May I add one more word. I think also that we are very conventional, when it comes to the point of view of the age period when women should have the professional training. Why do they have to start so early and why can't they start later on in their life? Why can't they come back and complete their training later on? What I wanted to add is the statistical support of these ideas. An occupation gets tagged a feminine or a masculine occupation and that works towards the disadvantage, to the disadvantage of the whole society. I don't know
whether you are familiar with the fact that pharmacists and dentists in France are to a much greater extent, women. We have women in real estate, in insurance, England does not. We don't have women in engineering or medicine. Soviet Union does. And even within our country, sometimes an occupation say in canning in Wisconsin, it is a masculine occupation. In Illinois, tradition and accident and whatnot get get involved and as a result of it, many a good teacher is lost to teaching because it's considered a feminine occupation, and many a good scientist is lost a woman is lost to science. You're trying, if I understand your point, you say there is really no rational basis for describing this
except tradition. That may develop, because you proved it I think by saying in one country this is regarded to be a woman's occupation. in another country, this is not. So that really there is not a rational basis, it's kind of a tradition. I have one correction. What is the fact, I think is that the occupations are more differentiated than they need to be on rational grounds. But I do not expect that men and women would have, as a group, the same occupational patterns. I expect some differences partially for the reasons you have suggested. I don't expect them to. I think the Secretary gave the key word a moment ago as far as women's and women and working is concerned and that was continuous. I think as in the story you describe, the woman should recognize, that if she wants to have a family,
her working life is going to have a discontinuity to it that often the working life of the man does not have, and that she should face up to this fact in advance and be prepared to make whatever adjustments she in society can make so that she can pursue these two things, sometimes in sequence or sometimes concurrently depending on what the profession or work is. I think we Ambassador Russel made a valuable point, though. At some point this may involve merely a postponement in an educational path not necessarily an abandonment of it. When I was in your country, I saw a training program which interested me very much because we are embarking now for the first time a big, governmental training group and retraining program, which you have had for some time. And my wife and I, at the invitation of your prime minister last year, saw a training program for women that invited women who had raised their families and who
wanted to do this. That was their choice. As a full time occupation at a later stage in their life, to become trained for a different career. And I thought that was an excellent program because it illustrated that you do not have to feel that because you are not able at one point in your career to pursue a continuous pattern, that this excludes you, at a later point in your life, picking up and pursuing a continuous path. This is a good thing, though. I think that, from observation, that it is difficult for people sometimes. Were never in the habit of being in college or any university. They have certain habits of learning. To go back to those after you have been out for a certain length of
time requires a good deal of self discipline. That happens to be one of the things I'm not quite sure we teach and I'm I'm wondering now how much this will really be done. And I'm wondering about another question, Mr. Secretary. You recommend at present, that we freeze wages for a time. Would you have this apply to some of the very low paid wages that women in certain capacities, and also many women, could do part time work and don't do it because either they can't get it or they don't feel that it's really worth doing because they don't get enough pay and it puts them on a lower status. Mrs, Roosevelt, to use an old cliche, I'm glad you asked that question. We do not
recommend that wages be frozen. And we are not recommending that as a matter of national policy. We have been recommending responsibility and restraint, both in the wage and price area in America generally, to avoid inflation, to promote price stability, to make our state competitive in the world markets and to meet our commitments abroad and protect the dollar. However I have said, and I've said it to labor conventions many of which are attended by high wage-earners, that when we say this, we don't mean in the same degrees. I would appeal for example to the industry and wage earners in the higher wage industries, to take a little less so that the wage earners in the lower wage industries, particularly women, many of whom fall, because of lack of training, lack of experience,
in those industries, can get a little bit more. As a matter of fact I feel very strongly about this subject. I think that we ought to place a major emphasis upon the less affluent parts of our society. I'm reminded of a statement that your husband once made. We will be judged not only in domestic affairs but in foreign affairs because we're talking about concepts that are universal, as is apparent here. Not on what we do for those who have too much, but on what we do for those who have too little. And I think that's a universal truth. It's true throughout the world in our foreign policy. It's true in our domestic policy. It's very important to us that we help raise the standards in other countries. What Mr. Secretary then, about the argument one often hears, that with unemployment among
men, it it is not politic and desirable to encourage greater employment among women? Well I was interested in Ambassador Russel when she talked about their employment. I was going to ask the same question you did and I'll try to answer it in part and then we ought to ask her. In her country to have a full employment economy. So they are anxious to get women into the labor market and they encourage. In our country we don't have a full employment economy, we haven't had it for some years. And the question does arise, are women displacing men? And is this desirable? I have two answers to this. First of all, our statistics show that a great majority of the women in the working force are in the working force because they have to be. Women are heads of family, women live alone. Women are required to work, and that represents an overwhelming proportion of women. And then,
It is a very interesting thing, that during a period of unemployment of men, women who do not normally choose to work, are required to work because their husbands are unemployed. And the job opportunities that are available, are only available to women. And actually I would say that today, we are having more women employed, during a period of unemployment, out of the necessities of family life. Would you, Dr. Thomas, speak to that? This other point is that we pride ourselves, and rightly so, about the standard of living and thinking that we are a middle class society. Well now, what is a middle class income? About 40 percent of American wage earners, earned, of the population, earned in 1955, and I don't know whether it's the last, between four thousand and seventy five hundred. Now that's not a
tremendously high income, and one half of those had a second earner, and that was a woman. And I doubt that we can maintain the so-called middle class standard of living otherwise. We think of course that this is something new that there was a time when the family was willing to live on the earnings of the husband. But what had happened is that children worked before, that to some extent the mother now replaces the work of children, and I don't know that it was true. I know it wasn't, as a matter of fact. We can all testify to the fact. for a family of eight children, and everybody worked. I mean, my mother did not. You are quite correct in that. The children worked. And mothers replace children now. You are very correct in that. And certainly we have just begun to explore, haven't we, the area of part time work and voluntary work for and by women in our society. There are so many areas which
are crying out loud for help here. And often, I think it's actually the mores of the particular profession. I am a teacher but I do think we could use part time teachers up and down the whole range of teaching. Also, I think there is volunteer work where women really have training, could be immensely valuable to the community in many cases. We have never really advanced volunteer way on a professional status. Mrs. Roosevelt, I think that's very important because today, in all of our areas: schools, education, handling children, handling the aged, we can't manage this only with the professional group available. And one of the great services that women can do on a part time basis or if their children are raised, in a full time basis, is this great area of volunteer work. My wife, for
example, has been looking into this in the district, and she has found enormous enthusiasm on the part of women who want to make a contribution to this to help within education, to help with juvenile problems, help with the aged problem, if they're invited to do it, and to be trained to do it. And part of our training must not only encompass training for jobs that pay and training for public service. This brings us to education, and I really think that this is one of the things we should discuss. Are we are we giving women the proper kind of education, I'll start with you, Mr. Mendenhall. I knew that education would take it sooner or later, Mrs. Roosevelt. We always do. I suppose I should first come back at the group with the question, do they think that the education of women should be substantially different from the education of men? I think this is a fairly important ground rule to get.
I once wrote a book saying no. Well I assume you're sticking to the position you have in the books. I have not changed to say women do have special problems. That's why we have an hour devoted to women's problems. It isn't because we assume that men don't have problems. It's after all the men who have the ulcers and the coronary. So they certainly do have problems, but we happen to be talking about women's problems. Would you amend your statement by saying women not only have special problems but special characteristics. Yes yes. But I believe that I'm talking about college education and that's something I know a little something about, and I'm not sure about secondary education. I think it applies even more so there. I think within the framework of essentially, a similar, strong liberal arts education. The special interests of the sexes can find their answer.
I don't believe that we can, we need to design a distinctively feminine college curriculum. If we did I think we would unfit women for occupations as well as for family life. A mother needs to know about an amoeba, not only about home-making. What would be your answer? I would not like to see a different kind of education for girls compared to boys. I think they should have the same curriculum. Then they can add to it that if they want to, other subjects which they need, sooner or later. But I would like to go back again from education to vocational training and to suitable or non suitable occupations. Because you have to base the education on some future needs for workers. If we're going to look into this I think we should rather try to see which
occupations or professions are supposed not to be suitable for women and then ask ourselves why and could something be done about it. Or should something be done about it. And I'm sure that when we study them a little closer, we'll see that it's a lot of prejudice. As you said, in different states, those jobs are not for women, and in other states, other kinds of jobs are not for women. So that's one field. I would also like to go back to the part time work. Maybe part time work is not so attractive because we have not made, we have not invented the field properly. We have not encouraged employers to invent the field and see if they could drop a few of the prejudices against dividing up jobs and put them on different hours of the day, so that they suit with the women better. Why I went over to this instead of sticking to your educational problem
was that then girls interest and parents interest in giving girls a suitable education, college or vocational training. Education has very much to do with the future possibilities. She cannot decide when she is 15 or 16 whether she is going to be married or is going to have children, but she has to make up her mind that she wants a real sound basis for possibilities to have a job. If her life should be such that she can have a job and chooses to have one. And that's why I'm so afraid that we planned the education and the training believing that they will sooner or later leave the labor market and not need to return to it. As you said, Mr. Goldberg, most of them need to work but I don't think they should be forced to go to the employer and give valid reasons
for their desire to work. But don't you think that at some point in the world: take graduate school Now it's true a 15 year old isn't sure as to whether she's going to get married. But when you reach graduate school you may have that question pretty well resolved. Now don't you think it is a valid consideration, because we can't have anything in life. No. And don't you think that's a valid consideration for a woman entering graduate school to say to herself- I have to consider. That if I want to, I'm a great believer in freedom of choice. I believe she has a right, if she wants to make arrangements to have a child taken care of and that is her pattern of life, that she performs her duties as a mother, that's her business and she ought to make that decision with her husband. Let's assume that she is with evaluation and she wants to think in terms of staying at home while the youngster is being raised. Don't you think that that is a valid consideration for her to take in mind, if she is going to Graduate School at that point.
Most certainly. It's the same evaluation as a boy does. In which field would he liked to have his training? What would be more suitable and most profitable for him. This is the same kind of evaluation although it leads in to something else. I don't feel Mrs. Roosevelt's complete pessimism about the possibility of returning after the children are older, to a professional occupational world. Something is stirring. In the country and I think the period of talking about it is over, and the period of doing something about it has begun. But of course the beginning is so few. If you see what is being done at Barnard now, at Radcliffe, at Sarah Lawrence, Those are all attempts to deal- At Smith, too. We're doing it too. I beg your pardon, I am not informed apparently. With happiness will include every you- You think
------- You would rather lean towards deferring marriages, don't you? I have created a happy reputation for myself Mrs. Roosevelt as being one of those who's raised his voice in mild protest but continue in protest against rushing into early marriages, for lots of complicated reasons not all of which are relevant to our discussion today. I think that no young person, man or woman, should contemplate marriage until he's a free standing independent individual, and to rush into marriage for reasons of seeking some kind of dependent situation I think is unfortunate for either party. I do think that the tendency towards the early marriage, as we have all agreed, is such that all of us in education should look
to adapt our educational patterns to assisting not only the young girl who is in her education to finish her education but as was said a moment ago I believe we should think of ways by which we could come to the aid of the young woman or the young mother with her children now out of the nest efficiently so that she can get back into a profession or vocation or perhaps take up one which she had not yet been identified with and I think it's a very true thing that most of the colleges and universities of the country are in their differing ways of becoming more and more aware of this. How much of a revolution this will have on on the education of women, I don't know. There are those who would say we should deliberately encourage them take off and get married in their late teens, have their family and then give them
their college education. I'm not sure any of us here would quite favor that yet. But I do think the patterns are changing and that we must, uh, work with them. One of the things that worries me and I know I'm not supposed to make a speech but one of the things that worried me is it worries me I'm not sure that the young women at a certain point in here don't lose their nerve and aren't perhaps the first to refuse to make the judgment which you Mrs. Rossell, were describing, or making the evaluation of themselves that the secretary was speaking to. I think at a certain point some of them are, well, to put it in a phrase, are too ready to carry a man's coat, when in fact they have the ability and training to go it alone, and they ought to recognize that they have this professional interest and perhaps the ability and aptitude and they ought to make something of it. But that in a way is change
from deferring to a partnership in marriage, really. So that each of them has a right for self development. I would like to ask you: What do you think the effect on the children is of a working mother. As I read the evidence of a number of studies, let's talk about the research, first. Everyone has opinions on the subject. There have been a number of studies made about the effect of employment upon adjustment of the child, academic standing, rejection on acceptance of the mother, types of discipline. And as I said, I would sum it all up by a saying that the mere fact off employment appears to make very little difference.
The more careful the study, the more the various conditions are matched, so that income is compared for the income class, so on and so forth. The less difference does the mere effect of employment have upon all of these variables that I mentioned. As I was leaving New York, I received a report of a study which does this kind of a careful comparison. Well, with regard to delinquency, amazing as it seems working mothers do not have a higher proportion of delinquent children. And it is for the melancholy reason that a mother can be at home and still not give the child proper care. Either by being called a burden or just being irresponsible. And that doesn't mean that working doesn't have any effect. It means that we have to think about it in a much more complex way. Taking into consideration the personality of the child and the mother and so forth and so on, and so if I were
to have to give a categorical answer, it would be that some mothers should work and others should not. And that's a really safe answer. What would you say from point of view of the development in other countries in the world and particularly in new countries, Mrs. Russell? Do you think that there is going to develop a system to help women to get an education whereby they can be more independent, or do you think the trend is another way? Well I think first of all that all the new countries are looking towards your country and countries like mine. That is quite a responsibility for us. Yes it is, yes it is. Tt is not just a domestic problem, it's also an international responsibility.
I don't think we can run away from that. Neither in your country nor in mine. And may be we should say sometimes it's so obvious it doesn't have to be said, but nevertheless, If we were not worried about the children, we should not have to discuss all of this. So may we make it clear that it's because the mothers, the women, and the men, the father, the society the father everybody is concerned about the well-being of children, that we are discussing this. But we are also concerned about the women and their happiness and by that that possibility to make the home happy and and harmonious. And that comes there the difficulty: that's the woman's loyalty to her man and her home and to the society and to the other women. And I think it puts them in a specially difficult position. Now I'm
coming back again to these young people coming back to retraining and so on. Only a few years ago when we took up this question in the UN Commission on the status of women and in the ILO. We spoke about older women workers, that is to say women over 40. They are no more called old women workers. It becomes more and more natural that they can come out for employment and for retraining. Our experience from studies and from practice, is that whatever the kind of education or training, in what ever field they have had before matters. They're much easier to retrain. Much easier to guide into even a new field of training. Because they already have had the training of their minds, their hands, their skills, even if they change the
industry entirely. I know I'm again coming back to you. And I will ask you: could, for instance, not the students in a Teachers College start their studies at the very old age of 38 to 40? Well, they've had the training and experience of their own children because they could still work strongly and happily until they are 60, 65. I would not only agree with you that they could start it. I would also argue that they could be taken, carried through this training at probably a faster rate than a younger person, and I think that our training pattern or program for such people at such an age should be very different than it is with with the teenagers. I think any of us for instance who taught in programs in the war which involved
older men, Officer Training things, and courses of this sort, Realize that you didn't teach a class of men in their 30s the same way you taught teenagers. And I think we have a great deal of readjustment and new thinking to do in colleges and vocational programs of various sorts to take cognizance of these, of the imponderables that experience gives to these It's exciting. Have you a point you want to make? I have another. I may go back to one. You asked me about the influence of employment upon children, employment of mothers. They just say that there seems to be a general agreement among child psychologists in this country that group care does not meet the emotional needs of children under three and very many of the
studies that I have cited, the results of which I have cited, deal with the effect of mothers employment on younger children but not infants. Is there a point you would like to make? I would like to make one final point, that regardless of where we may be in how to treat a particular problem of women in employment. Or anything like this. I think we all ought to agree upon one thing: that prejudice ought not to be a barrier against any person, man or woman, realizing his full potential. And that basic to a discussion of our whole problem is we got to get rid of this prejudice and start from there. Considering what the problems are. Well I think the time is nearly running out and I have, Will try to sum up what to me is very
significant. Namely that I think we have practically said that in education we must face new things in the next few years that we have new situations to meet and new problems to face and that we may need to rethink our education in a number of ways. I I like the idea that one can train faster perhaps at an older age. Not too old but a little bit more mature. And also I'm enormously encouraged by the fact that it really seems to be the feeling that children are not really harmed by the fact that their mothers work. These two things stand out. And I think are important things and also that it's an international problem.
And now I'm sorry to say I have to thank you all. And this is our last program for the season. So I want to thank all of our faithful audience and say goodbye and I hope we will have you all together joining us next year. President John. F Kennedy appeared in a Special Introduction. United States secretary of labor Aga Russel is Sweden's permanent representative to the United Nations. This is Bob Jones speaking. to us in Washington.
This is a National Educational Television.
Prospects of Mankind with Eleanor Roosevelt
Episode Number
What Status for Women
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Episode Description
Program opens with a ten minute segment in which President John F. Kennedy is interviewed one-on-one by Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House in Washington, DC. Balance of program, Eleanor Roosevelt moderates; Guests: Arthur Goldberg, United States Secretary of Labor; Agda Rossel, Swedish Ambassador to the United Nations; Thomas Mendenhall, President of Smith College; Mirra Komarovsky, Head of the Department of Sociology at Barnard College, author of Women in the Modern World: Their Education and Their Dilemmas.
Episode Description
Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt hosts a discussion on a newly created President's Commission on the Status of Women created with executive order 10980 in the Kennedy administration December 14, 1961-October 11, 1963. Mrs. Roosevelt interviews President John F. Kennedy at the White House on his hopes for the new commission of which Roosevelt had been appointed Chair. Roosevelt and Kennedy discuss women attaining higher public office and careers, the problem of childcare in relation to women seeking higher employment status, housewives increasing their contributions to society, and the future of equal pay legislation. Roosevelt leads a 40 minute panel discussion with Secretary of Labor Arthur Goldberg; Dr. Mirra Komarovsky, Sociologist at Barnard College, Agda Rossel, Representative to the United Nations for Sweden; and Thomas Mendenhall President of Smith College. The group discusses daycare policies in the United States in comparison to Sweden, day care and the effects of such on child development, effects of motherhood on women's employment, prejudice toward women in college curriculums, work opportunities, educational opportunities for older women, and equal and adequate pay for American workers. Summary and select metadata for this record was submitted by Maureen Mann Tannetta.
Asset type
Talk Show
Social Issues
Global Affairs
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963; Women's Rights; equal pay; United States Government; Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962; Presidential Commission on the Status of Women; Women's Labor Force
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Moving Image
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Director: Nichols, Gene
Host: Roosevelt, Eleanor
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
Publisher: Courtesy of Thirteen/WNET New York and WGBH Boston
Writer: Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Writer: Goldberg, Arthur
Writer: Lockwood, Ruth
Writer: Morgenthau, Henry, III
Writer: Rossel, Agda
Writer: Berger, Clarence Q.
Writer: Braude, Beatrice
Writer: Mendenhall, Thomas
Writer: Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
Writer: Jones, Bob
Writer: Komarovsky, Mirra
AAPB Contributor Holdings
Identifier: 0000261635 (WGBH Barcode)
Format: Betacam
Generation: Master
Identifier: 0000126881 (WGBH Barcode)
Format: D3
Generation: Master
Identifier: 115153 (WGBH Barcode)
Format: VHS
Generation: Copy: Access
Identifier: 19744 (WGBH Barcode)
Format: VHS
Generation: Copy: Access
Identifier: 19743 (WGBH Barcode)
Format: VHS
Generation: Copy: Access
Identifier: 3c886f5d359b02bc8e119f2bf32432a1fc7ddb4a (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
Format: video/quicktime
Color: B&W
Duration: 00:00:00
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Chicago: “Prospects of Mankind with Eleanor Roosevelt; 310; What Status for Women,” 1962-06-04, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2023,
MLA: “Prospects of Mankind with Eleanor Roosevelt; 310; What Status for Women.” 1962-06-04. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2023. <>.
APA: Prospects of Mankind with Eleanor Roosevelt; 310; What Status for Women. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from