Work: Traditional Jobs

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"Women married did not work"
- Cornelia Spencer Love

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Several women in nurses uniforms

Nursing Students, Louisburg College, 1918

During the first half of the twentieth century, women's options for taking a job were very limited, and the idea of a woman entering higher education or a professional career was considered quite radical.The accepted path for an educated young woman was to work as a teacher (or perhaps as a secretary, nurse, librarian, or office assistant) until she married. Once she was married, she was expected to leave the workforce and focus on her duties to her family and home life. Modjeska Simkins recalls being asked to resign from her job as a teacher once she married because married teachers weren't allowed to teach in the city school systems.

"Married teachers couldn't
teach" - Modjeska Simkins

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Such expectations set up a fairly narrow path for a woman to follow. If she married, it was no longer 'normal' for her to remain in the workforce or continue her education. If she pursued a career, she risked sacrificing the relative economic and social security of marriage. Many women appear to have been content to follow the traditional path. Working as a teacher or in some other job for some amount of time after women's college allowed a young woman to use her education to support herself with some degree of independence before becoming a wife.