Author of'" Every Way of Earning a Living," " Our Sons and Datighters" etc
'"The chief advantages which belong to the Civil Service as a sphere in which women may work include permanency of employment, regularity as regards hours, the prospect of a pension, and the comfort to be gained from working among those at least equal in the social scale.
Of these advantages, the first named - permanency of employment - must be, and indeed generally is, regarded as of paramount importance, for, unfortunately, it is the common experience of the girl or woman clerk outside of the service to be out of a berth, and face to face with the cruel and heartbreaking task of searching for a "post," and searching often for a long time and in vain, for the "post" is elusive, and seems somehow to evade all efforts made towards its capture.
The Advantage of Regular Work
The young woman in "the service," once having got there, need have no fear in this respect. So long as she can keep time within reasonable limits, that may extend to minutes or - (we had almost said hours) - possibly quarter-hours, so long as she finds her work congenial and her health good, she need never have to join the ranks of those who are searching for occupation. Her position is a permanent one, or - as one lady civil servant remarked jocularly to me recently - until she marries.
In addition to the advantages enumerated already, one must not overlook the important question of salary, which, besides being regular, is comparatively good in all the branches.
It may be possible to get higher pay outside in some cases. But such places " want finding," and when found they frequently, like all good and bad things, come to an end at a very inconvenient moment, either through changes.in the heads of the firm or through bankruptcy (not necessarily brought about by the payment of higher rates of wages) of the employers.
After all, regular hours, regular pay, and comfortable surroundings are as much as we are entitled to look for in these days of keen competition, when for every vacancy that is worth filling perhaps a hundred applicants will apply.
Giirl Clerks in the G.p.o., London
I propose now to consider the position of a girl clerk in the G.p.o.. the limits of age for which position are 16 and 18, and at least five feet in height without boots.
The subjects of examination are (1) English composition (including writing and spelling); (2) arithmetic; (3) geography; (4) Latin, or French or German; (5) precis writing; (6) English history; (7) mathematics; and (8) one of the languages, Latin, French, German, which is not offered as subject 4. Not more than one of the subjects numbered 6 to 8 may be offered.
Successful candidates are required to live with parents or guardians, or with relations or friends approved of by such parents or guardians, and an undertaking to this effect has to be given by every candidate as and when required by the Civil Service Commissioners.
The official forms for permission to attend the examination may be obtained from the secretary of the Civil Service Commission, London, S.w., who will also inform applicants as to the date when the next examination is to be held.
An examination fee of 10s. must be paid by every candidate attending the examination.
The salary of girl clerks commences at 42, and increases by £3 per annum to £48. The hours of attendance are seven daily.
At the end of two years' service girl clerks who are certified by the head of the department to be competent may be promoted, as vacancies occur, to the class of women clerks, with a salary of 65, which increases by £5 per annum to 110.
Those who, at the end of two years, do not obtain a certificate of competency, are eligible for transfer to the class of female sorters. Girl clerks, like other female officers of the General Post Office, are required to resign their appointments on marriage. They must also resign their appointments if they wish to compete for women clerkships.
The Civil Service Commissioners issue in respect of this examination the same information regarding handwriting as for female learners, London, printed on page 1206, Part 10, of Every Woman's Encyclopaedia.
Girls who wish to enter this branch of the service, however, should, before preparing for the examination, note the following official particulars regarding arithmetic, geography, French and German, and mathematics.
A knowledge of recurring decimals is not required.
For full credit the working must be completely shown and clearly arranged.
A result may be asked for to a certain approximation, or the data may themselves be only approximate. In such a case, to give the result to a greater degree of accuracy than is asked for, or is justified by the data, will entail loss of marks.
Of the marks for arithmetic one-third will be given for addition.
Geographical Knowledge Required
The different regions of the earth - forest, grass, and desert - hot,, cold, and temperate - and all kinds of human activity suited to each. The distribution of the more important plants, animals, and minerals, and their uses.
Explanation of day and night, summer and winter. Latitude, longitude, and time. The circulation of water in all its forms: tides, treated without reference to the sun and moon; drift and stream currents; evaporation and condensation; clouds, rain, dew; rivers and springs; snowfields and glaciers. Types of climate and their distribution.
Land forms; mountains and tablelands, volcanoes, plains, valleys, etc. Types of drainage areas. Maps: how to read a map, and how to make a map of a small district; contour lines; sections.
The chief physical features of the earth's surface; the position of the principal cities and countries, and of the great rivers, mountain ranges, etc. The principal means of international communication by land and water. A more detailed knowledge of the geography of the British Isles, and especially of the position of the counties and their more important towns and the routes of the principal railways. A knowledge of county boundaries will not be required.
The examination in French or German includes translation from the language, translation into the language, free composition, reading aloud, writing from dictation.
Knowledge of Mathematics Required
The triangle, the number and natuie of the conditions that determine it, simple relations among its parts.
Algebraic formulas, graphs, equations, integral indices, use of logarithms, in connection with the above and other problems.
Theorem of Pythagoras, and its extension to any triangle.
Grasp of elementary principles and readiness in practical application will be looked for. Numerical results should be worked out to a few significant figures, and candidates should use rough checks of the accuracy of their results. Simple problems in three dimensions are not excluded. No great skill in the use of drawing instruments will be expected.
Women Clerks, G.p.o., London
The limits of age for this situation are 18 to 20, and an important regulation from the point of view of those already in the service is that "in reckoning age for competitors, persons who have served for two full consecutive years in any civil situation to which they were admitted with the certificate of the Civil Service Commissioners may deduct from their actual age any time, not exceeding five years, which they may have spent in such service."
The regulations for girl clerks as to being unmarried or widows, as to health and being British subjects, also apply to women clerks, and the subjects of examination, conditions as to living with parents or guardians, height, and examination fee are the same. The information furnished by the Civil Service Commissioners as to handwriting, arithmetic, geography, French and German, and mathematics also applies to that given above in reference to the examination in these subjects at the girl clerks' examination.
Salary of Women Clerks
The salary of women clerks commences at £65 a year and increases by 5 per annum to £110. Promotions to vacancies in the higher classes depend on merit. Appointments are subject to one year's probation. The hours of attendance are seven daily. Appointments must be vacated on marriage.
The special attention of candidates is called to the following regulation, which applies also to the position of girl clerks described above.
Successful candidates cannot under any circumstances be assigned to an office outside
London, and will be required, if necessary, to accept appointment in any department of the Post Office in London in which their services may be required, irrespective of their place of residence, or of their position on the list of competitors.
As I have pointed out above, the certainty and regularity of employment are service attractions which are not found elsewhere. I have known men whose age has been on the side of the sere and yellow leaf who have suddenly been thrown out of work by a commercial catastrophe which has made the firm by which they are employed suddenly insolvent. These men have looked upon themselves as being in "certainties," alas! only to find that a time has come when, youth having flown, they are face to face with the proposition of "finding something to do."
Bankruptcy cannot - that is, in all human probability - affect the berth of a civil servant, and the comfort of having a real "certainty" when one reaches an age somewhat on the other side of forty is too obvious to need enlarging upon.
In the next part of Every Woman's Encyclopaedia I shall deal with branches of the service which will be of very great interest. Firstly, I shall consider fully the position of the female typist in all Government departments, giving both the examinations that have to be passed and the prospects in the various departments.
The new General Post Office in Newgate Street, London, where many girl clerks are employed. This commodious building is a great improvement on the old office, being equipped with all the latest improvements Photo, Topical