Working Girls: What It’s Really Like

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“Working Girls: What It’s Really Like,” New Era, July 1971, 12

Working Girls:
What It’s Really Like

The “working girl”—glamour girl of the ’70s.

So read news features around the world, heralding the single career girl because of her independence, her knack for survival, her unlimited freedom.

But one group of working girls doesn’t look at it that way at all.

These working girls love life, love truth, love their chance for self-improvement—and love being Latter-day Saints. Yes, they’re working girls, but they’re not working for career success and woman’s liberation. They’re working for something far more significant—success in personality development, intellectual growth, homemaking skills, and missionary work.

Who are these girls? They’re the single, “unattached-for-the-moment” girls throughout the world who are active flag-wavers for their ideals and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Michele Jacobsen, twenty, a secretary in Washington, D.C., for the Institute of Public Administration, moved to the nation’s capitol from Swan Valley, Idaho. She moved to the East because she “wanted to be involved in work that has national significance.”

“I’ve learned to listen to other people’s ideas,” she says. “But I have also learned to defend my own. I think working back here has made me realize how much I can do with my life—and has made me even more determined to make the most of myself and prepare for marriage.”

Her roommate, Patricia Sotto, twenty, a receptionist from Pocatello, Idaho, shares the same attitudes. “I feel as if I’m really doing something to improve the talents God has given me. Someday I want to help my own family learn respect, responsibility, and a love of God.”

Rhonda Wray, twenty-three, a secretary in New York City, explains her reasons for becoming a working girl: “It was an opportunity for new experiences, new places to see and visit, and a chance to see the world from a different viewpoint.

“Since coming to New York, I have become more cultural-minded. I’m learning more and more what really counts in life, and it’s not material things.”

Rhonda, like Michele and Patricia, rooms with other Latter-day Saint girls. They do their share of apartment clean-up duties and maintain that their most enjoyable social activities revolve around their respective M Man and Gleaner programs.

“Entertainment opportunities are boundless,” says Rhonda. “Our activities range from playing touch football in the park or touring Greenwich Village to cheering at a professional baseball game or attending the opera.

“I’m reminded even more of the importance of home, marriage, and love, because I see people all around who aren’t getting the love they need.”

Rhonda voices the views of her working roommates, too. “The Church is very meaningful in my life here in New York, for I can see how it makes me different and how it gives me more happiness. The Church has answers to questions concerning such subjects as freedom, law and justice, women’s lib, equality, welfare, and the value of life. My knowledge of the whole plan of life and salvation helps tremendously in my being able to put certain ideas in their proper perspective.”

Not only do the working girls refine their value systems; they also train themselves in practical matters, particularly money and time budgeting.

Helen Morgenegg, a stewardess for Pan American Airlines, rooms with Rhonda and two other Latter-day Saint girls. “I would say I’m living moderately,” Helen explains. “I’m not starving, but it’s not easy, either. I find that there are so many things to do and see that sometimes I don’t have the money or time I would like. However, as a result, I find myself valuing time more. And I get more done than ever before.”

Barbara Phippen, Wilton, Connecticut, is an assistant manager for an interior decorating firm. She moved home with her family after graduating from Brigham Young University. She describes the working girl at home. “I appreciate having easy access to home conveniences. And I enjoy the benefits of country living—the clean air, wooded areas, and casual pace. I like being surrounded by ideas and activities that stimulate my religious beliefs, because then the gospel really becomes the iron rod in my life.

“Living at home gives me more time to study the gospel. I know I will be questioned and have to be ready with the answers.”

Another live-at-home girl is Susan Watts, who works in marketing on the other side of the continent. In Los Altos, California, Sue also appreciates a home environment. “I have become less ‘me-oriented.’ Working and living at home has taught me through example that the most important work I could do on earth is to have a marriage based on mutual love, respect, and honesty.”

All six working girls admit that their social life suffers not at all. The reason? Active M Man and Gleaner programs in their areas.

Michele commends the M Men and Gleaners in Washington and then adds, “I do associate with many people who are not Mormons, and I can’t think of a better way to spread the gospel.”

And Rhonda, in New York, explains, “Here in the city, there are not many Latter-day Saint fellows to choose from and vice versa, but the friends we do have are very close and we do many things together. Every now and then a lasting relationship develops; I met my fiancé in New York! We often joke about how far we had to go to meet each other.”

What about entertainment for the working girls?

“It’s not really different from school days,” answers Patricia, “but there is so much more variety, more places to go, more cultural things to see.”

Hobbies, service, and Church work?

Susan answers that one: “I have much more time than ever before to practice the piano, sew, work on ceramics, and spend time as a teacher trainer.”

And, finally, the “establishment”?

“My attitude about the ‘establishment’ has been affected greatly by moving into the business world,” confides Susan. “It’s very discouraging to find out how moral values have declined and how animalistic some people are becoming in seeking pleasure and status. It makes me sad to see so much great potential wasted.”

Helen conveys the consensus: “As I meet people and talk with them, I’m so thankful that the Church gives us direction in our lives, goals to work toward, and a purpose here. In this world of confusion, we need eternal truths to cling to. And personally, they give me a wonderful feeling of security and confidence.”

With all this positivism, however, the girls admit that there are disadvantages to their working lives. For some it is “too much to do and too little time and money.” For others it is “too little Latter-day Saint social life.”

Ironically, the so-called glamour side of the single girl’s life appeals to them the least. They agree that independence and survival challenges are meager attractions indeed when compared with the possibilities of marriage partnerships and family building.

For each of them, the easiest-to-answer question one can pose concerns the greatest blessings of her life as a working girl. To this, each one replies unhesitatingly: “The Church and my relationship with God.”