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Gallup Vault: Mixing Career and Marriage Goals in 1952

"What kind of job or occupation do you think offers a young woman the best chances of finding a husband?"

The question itself, asked in 1952, denotes markedly different gender and workplace norms from today's #MeToo environment. The answers -- led by secretary, nurse, waitress and airline stewardess -- remind us how far women have come in their career choices.

Best Career Options for Finding a Husband
What kind of job or occupation do you think offers a young woman the best chances of finding a husband?
U.S. adults
Office job (secretary, stenographer, clerk, receptionist) 32
Nurse 14
Waitress 7
Airline stewardess 5
Selling in department stores/men's clothing stores 5
Factory work 4
Armed forces (WAAC, WAVES, WAFS, Marines) 4
Teaching 3
Show business 3
Other 12
No opinion 14
Gallup, April 13-18, 1952

Whereas such a question today would likely be met with incredulity, in 1952 only 14% of Americans didn't offer an answer. Further, men and women had similar views about the types of jobs that would give women the best chance of meeting eligible men.

Among women, the top choices involved office work (secretary, stenographer, clerk, receptionist), followed by being a nurse, waitress or airline stewardess, as well as joining one of the women's groups in the armed forces such as the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) or Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS).

Men were also most likely to see office work, nursing and waitressing as the best jobs for women in search of a husband. But men ranked retail sales jobs and factory work higher than being a stewardess or joining the military.

Beyond the poll findings, respondents' comments collected during interviewing offer some additional insight into what was expected of women in 1952. According to George Gallup's write-up of the data, one respondent offered, "The best way for a girl to find a husband is to be a really outstanding cook." Another said, "Never mind a job -- just go to church and be a good old-fashioned girl; that's what the men like."

View the original 1952 Gallup News release on finding a husband at work.

Read a 2017 Gallup News article on top career recommendations for young men and women.