Alternative Professions: Goucher College Graduates and Social Reform, 1892-1910
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Type of Work211 pages
ProgramMaster of Arts, University of Maryland
Recently historians have criticized the development of women- dominated professions such as teaching and social work. Condemning these fields from the perspective of the 1970s, however, neglects their importance as professional alternatives for college women at the turn of the century. This thesis examines Goucher College graduates at this time in order to determine why they overwhelmingly chose social service work for their careers. Their motivation stemmed from two factors: the goals of Goucher's education and the professional opportunities offered by these fields. Goucher administrators expected the graduates to use their education to serve others, and the many faculty active in Baltimore social service work were models. The ad- ministrators also stressed that the graduates were to be womanly; they gave the students a rigorous intellectual training (modeled after the leading men's colleges) for womanly duties. The students kept this in mind when choosing a career. Those who wanted a profession could not be womanly and enter the male-dominated medical or legal professions. Instead they chose alternative professions. Goucher graduates chose teaching, charity, settlement, and Young Women's Christian Association work because these were fields which had potentially professional structures. In addition, women already working to develop these four fields acted as professional models for Goucher graduates.