One of the great things about packing our collections for the move is that we’re getting a chance to go through everything. We have a lot of stuff. Aside from the million or so books, we also have puzzles, kits, posters, and games. If it was published by the State of Arizona or the Federal Government in the last 100 + years, we probably have it around here somewhere. Some of the older stuff can be pretty dated, but it’s part of our government’s history, and our role at the Research Library is to preserve that history, make it accessible, and learn from it.
With that in mind, we found this training game in our State Documents collection: Cinderella Minus the Prince: The Displaced Homemaker.
It was developed in 1980 by The Project for Homemakers in Arizona Seeking Employment (PHASE) and the University of Arizona, with a grant from the Arizona Department of Education. The objectives, as stated in the instructions, are:
- To heighten the awareness of the needs and concerns of displaced homemakers; and
- To become aware of the intense feelings and sometimes desperate concerns of the displaced homemakers.
Here is the basic premise of the game: players each adopt a persona of a “displaced homemaker” — which is a recently divorced or widowed woman. The personas are very specific — detailing age, race, and health, as well as the number of children each has. Each persona is assigned a number of points.
The game progresses as the displaced homemakers gain support from a variety of resources by attending community college, seeking counseling, or receiving assistance from family, religious organizations, women’s groups, and employment agencies. The players progress around a room, stopping at each of these service providers and drawing a card.
One of the key takeaways of this exercise is that the resources that are supposed to exist to support these women do not always come through. As often as these cards state a positive outcome and increase the player’s points, they may also throw up a roadblock and take points away.
The point of this game is apparently not to make displaced homemakers aware of services, but to educate those who might be providing the services. Preparing people to re-enter the workplace after a long gap in employment is an important job, and understanding the specific fears and frustrations of displaced homemakers can only smooth the process.
Although this game is nearly 40 years old, after reviewing its contents, it’s obvious that the challenges facing displaced homemakers have not changed. And neither has their need for support and services. That Arizona State Department of Economic Security has a webpage for “dislocated workers” and the Arizona Job Connection has a portal that includes resources for training and education.
And libraries are another resource for displaced homemakers. During the Great Recession, job help hubs began appearing in public libraries across the country. Libraries offer technology classes, resume writing workshops, and education tools. The Digital Arizona Library offers a number of these tools online, including Career Transitions, Learning Express Library, and the Testing and Educational Reference Center.
And don’t forget, libraries still provide free books too.