XV-"Prisoners of Poverty: Women wage-workers, their trades and their lives" - Helen Campbell - New York Tribune

XV-"Prisoners of Poverty: Women wage-workers, their trades and their lives" - Helen Campbell - New York Tribune

"Among the Shop-Girls"

by: Helen Campbell | publication date: January 30, 1887 | Publication: The New York Tribune | pages: 10

"We don't want men," he said. "We would n't have them even if they came at the same price. Of course cheapness has something to do with it, and will have, but for my part give me a woman to deal with every time. Now there's an illustration over at that hat-counter. We were short of hands to-day, and I had to send for three girls that had applied for places, but were green — did n't know the business. It did n't take them ten minutes to get the hang of doing things, and there they are, and you 'd never know which was old and which was new hand. Of course they don't know all about qualities and so on, but the head of the department looks out for that. No, give me women every time. I 've been a manager thirteen years, and we never had but four dishonest girls, and we 've had to discharge over forty boys in the same time. Boys smoke and lose at cards, and do a hundred things that women don't, and they get worse instead of better. I go in for women."

"How good is their chance of promotion ?" "We never lose sight of a woman that shows any business capacity, but of course that's only as a rule in heads of departments. A saleswoman gets about the same right along. Two thirds of the girls here are public-school girls and live at home. You see that makes things pretty easy, for the family pool their earnings and they dress well and live well. We don't take from the poorer class at all. These girls earn from four and a half to eight dollars a week. A few get ten dollars, and they 're not likely to do better than that. Forty dollars a month is a fortune to a woman. A man must have his little fling, you know. Women manage better."

Campbell's look at the girls who work in garment retail, featuring interviews with both employers about why they prefer to employ women and with the girls themselves.