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College of Human Ecology
Cornell University
  home sewing
  a profession?
  type of research?
  types of careers?
  national and international impact?
  educational techniques?
  role in national emergencies?
  influence on consumer culture?
  students' self-definition?
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  women's suffrage
  Eleanor Roosevelt
  Marriage Course

What Careers Did Home Economics Include?

Training in home economics not only prepared women for motherhood and homemaking but also for a broad spectrum of careers in public and private education, business, social service, dietetics, journalism, and institutional management. As various professional fields legitimized their specific knowledge and talents, home economists carved a place for themselves outside the domestic sphere. They found employment in such notable national institutions as Macy's, Campbell's Soup Company, and the Girl Scouts of America. Home economists also worked at radio stations, hosting shows such as "Listen to Nutrition," which disseminated scientific information to the American public.

Aware of the realities facing women who needed to earn a living, Cornell's College of Home Economics sought to educate students about career options after graduation. A counseling center prepared students with useful information as well as access to an alumnae network that helped them secure employment. This counseling office also served to match graduates with the job requests that poured in from companies and institutions eager to hire women with home economics training. From 1955 to 1956 for example, the placement office received over 1,700 phone calls requesting home economics graduates. By this time home economists had distinguished much of their work from household tasks and were now recognized and sought after for their expertise in a variety of fields.

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