Edit ModuleShow Tags

From the Archives: A Working Woman in 1950

More than 50 years ago, being a "career woman" meant jobs in art and modeling and an income for clothes and dinner parties


From San Diego Magazine, April 1950

So many things professional women take for granted today were far from guaranteed 70 years ago. Having a job and raising a family? Unheard of! Choosing not to have children at all? Blasphemy! Showing up to work looking anything less than effortlessly perfect? Gasp!

Flipping through the pages of the April 1950 issue of San Diego Magazine serves as a useful reminder of how far we’ve come, even despite the inequalities that still exist in today’s workplace. In a feature on “San Diego Career Girls,” writer Doris Christman profiles “a new phenomenon”: young, unmarried women who are opting for a career instead of getting married right after college.

“This career woman in San Diego is, in general, preparing for marriage in from two to five years, and often she is filled with qualms about letting her chances, and the years, fly by,” Christman writes. “However, in typical women fashion, she is sure that when the right man and the right time comes along she will know it and either effect a satisfying blend of husband, home, and job, or let one of an ambitious younger flock take her place.”

Our cover story this month profiles women who are running the show in biotech, medicine, science, and government, but the career landscape looked a bit different in the ’50s. The article pinpoints jobs that “women seem best equipped to handle” thanks in large part to “her vanity and her good sense,” including advertising copywriter, personnel counselor, artist, and model. And while today’s woman may have her sights set on owning property, buying stocks, and investing in a startup, back then, Christman notes that all those pay stubs could go toward clothes, books, music, and “small apartments” that are “just right for small dinner parties.”

One of the women profiled in the story is Katherine Wueste, public relations and promotion director for Walker-Scott Department Store. Readers instantly get to know her as “that rare woman, an incisive, forceful, talented executive who is also a good-looking female.” We also get to meet Sibby Durant, a professional model and former Miss Kansas runner-up, and Betty Mae Marshall, 23, a “serious young advertising woman.”

While we still have plenty of glass ceilings to break, here’s one litmus test that’s a testament to progress: Try describing any woman today as these “career girls” were described in 1950. Then sit back and prepare yourself for the backlash.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Holiday Entertaining: Three Riffs On a Table Setting

Three San Diego stylists sound off on their suggestions to elevate your seasonal soiree

Celebrating Women: A Q&A with The New Children's Museum CEO Judy Forrester

Forrester talks about rising from humble beginnings, taking on daunting jobs, and identifying how to move the needle

Leo Hamel Opens Handbag Shop in Mission Hills

The fine jeweler's new consignment concept invites shoppers to sell their designer goods and buy them, too
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants
    Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants
  2. Best of San Diego Party 2018
  3. A Sneak Peek at ‘The Heart of Rock & Roll’
    The Old Globe’s newest world-premiere musical promises a familiar soundtrack and all the good feels of an ’80s rom-com
  4. What San Diego Women Want
    53 working women share their compelling stories on navigating pay equity, the baby penalty, #MeToo, and more
  5. First Look: Lola 55
    A top restaurant industry strategist brings a chef-driven taco shop to the East Village
  6. Sushi’s Next Gen Is Here at Himitsu
    In La Jolla, a Sushi Ota protégé sticks to an age-old tradition of quality
Edit ModuleShow Tags


Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags