Girls,Games & Career Guidance

illustration  women careers 1960s

What Shall I Be?

By the time I was 11 years old, I  had bid my EZ bake oven goodbye   and tucked my Tiny Tears doll into her rock-bye crib for the last time. Like most other pre pubescent  girls in the mid 1960′s I was  ready to target more weighty matters- like what  I wanted to  be when I grew up.

We were, our Weekly Readers told us, a new generation of girls, fueled first by the New Frontier challenges of JFK, now primed and ready to join LBJ’s Great Society.

To assist us on our journey was a brand new board game  called “What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls.” Debuting in 1966 it was made by Selchow & Righter Company makers of the popular game of Parcheesi.

1960s toys games career girls

What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls 1966 Board Game. Players learn what it takes to become a teacher, ballerina, nurse, model, actress and airline stewardess. For girls 8 to 13

Along with “Miss Popularity” and “Mystery Date”, “What Shall I Be?”  formed the  holy grail   of board games designed to  prepare  a young girl with the essential skills needed for  the exciting game of life of which she apparently hadn’t a clue.

The object of the game was to be the first player to become a Career Girl, achieved by collecting school, subject and personality cards for specific careers. With the roll of the dice the thrilling world of career options awaited me.

But the cards were stacked against the girls of the 1960s..

Mad Men’s Peggy Olsen may have scored a corner office in a big Madison Avenue office , but the options presented to a real life girl in 1966 were less than thrilling.

1960s toys games career girls

The 6 exciting career options offered in this game just for girls included  nursing school to become a nurse, drama school to become an actress, college to become a teacher, ballet school to become a ballet dancer, airline training school to become an airline stewardess or everyone’s favorite, sashaying off to charm school to become a model.

Charm school would clearly serve you well in securing a job in all the other fields which also seemed to  require the oh-so important arts of visual poise, grace and charm, voice and diction, grooming essentials, figure control make up and hair styling and other social skills that would help you attain your goals more quickly and readily.

1960s toys games career girls nurse, stewardess, actress

In the dog eat dog game world of high stake careers, girls competed by being the first to collect school, personality, and subject cards for specific careers.

1960s toys games career choices

Subject Cards For What Shall I Be? Board Game . Other cards included, You don’t speak clearly, you have poor posture, Hair styling is good, Good fashion

The games consisted of 30 School Cards, 16 round subject cards and 16 heart-shaped personality cards

1960s game pieces toys game career

Personality cards for the came What Shall I Be? Cards were collected when you landed on a spot “Take heart card” Other cards included “You are Pretty,” “You are Clumsy”, “You are not Considerate,” and “You Have Patience”

The game ended when one lucky player had collected 4 school cards of one profession and 2 subject cards and two personality cards that were good for that profession.  After that, the sky’s the limit!

There was a version of what Shall I be  for boys the exciting career game for boys. Options for boys included going to law school to become a statesman, graduate school to become a scientist,medical school to become a doctor, college to become an athlete, technical school to become an engineer or flight school to become an astronaut.

Exciting Careers

The board game merely reflected what we viewed in the media at large. Flipping through Seventeen Magazine were the real life ads for exciting careers.

careers airlines

career airline slow thinker

career models charm school

career modeling overweight

careers nursing

In a few short years girls would rebel against the cards we were dealt. The woman’s movement would be the wild card in the future.

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You’ve Come A Long Way Peggy Olson

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  1. I want to play this game!

  2. I love this post – fantastic! I wonder how many people took the advice of the board game and ended up in the career it chose for them?

    • Glad you enjoyed the post. In answer to your question, I believe Meryl Streep was an avid player of this game always drawing the acting card, and well, you can see where that led her!

  3. Pingback: The 10 Most Offensive Board Games Ever Published | Wonder My World

  4. Pingback: Learning to Count – Equal Pay Day | Envisioning The American Dream

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