The writers of the present volume have a purely practical object in view. They have no desire to discuss, theoretically, the duties, rights, and responsibilities of women. They consider that it would be unwise to give prominence to considerations affecting the political or social position of women, in a work dealing specially with their industrial situation.
On the other hand, they are fully aware that there is a necessary connection between the views which appear to be in course of formation as to the proper position of women in the labour market, and the change which has taken place in the standpoint from which all questions—even the most abstract—regarding the condition of women are now discussed. Various reforms have been forced on us within the last thirty years through the necessity of recognising, legally and socially, that development in the relations of women to the state and to society which has been brought about by the pressure of the altered circumstances of modern life. Unfortunately, the agitation which has accompanied the carrying of these reforms has been characterized, in some directions, by a deplorable lack of self-control and judgment on the part of certain of those who have put themselves forward as the leaders of their sex. In the past, it must be confessed that our social system has not afforded to the majority of women those opportunities for the acquisition of disciplined habits of mind which are to be found only in bearing the responsibilities of independent action and self-government. When we hear the voices of those who have been called the "shrieking sisterhood” uplifted in frenzied violence against the male oppressor, when we are tempted to repudiate their follies, we may remember that crimes against good sense, good taste, and good feeling are, like other crimes, bred of the bitter resentment of wrong which springs in the breasts of all who awake to consciousness of the suffering inflicted by centuries of unjust rule.