The median income for the mature working woman in 1976 was $8,546 according to a Census Bureau survey. For men it was $15,889.

The number of women in managerial jobs has increased by 600,000 or 50 percent since 1970, according to a State Department report on women in America prepared for the United Nations in 1977. That report notes an increase in rhe proportion of female business, law and medical school students, a 44-percent increase in technical programs in vocational schools in the past five years with an 80 percent increase in the number of women enrolled in trade and industrial training programs.

Most women work because they need the money, according to the Labor Department, for reasons varying from divorce to putting children through college. Stokes says she doesn't need the money. "I like to work, I think work is a natural part of living. Very few people can express themselves without working."

Stokes works by appointments, which she makes four days a week. This gives her a flexibility she cherishes.

And the house she used to run, wo runs it now? "I really feel we have four adults in the house and I'm constantly telling them that. I don't run it with nearly the order I used to. If things get done, fine - if they don't, they don't. I don't feel everything depends on me. I have rejected that role."

She says her husband helps around the house these days and "never minds if I ask him to go to the store. He'll do everything but floors and windows." He will retire in five years. "I don't plan to stop working when he retires," says Charlotte Stokes.

"I think women should be encouraged to do what they want to do and, more than anything, they should think about what they want to do. Going back to college is fine for a lot of people, but there are so many other things you can do, too."

There were raised eyebrows in the blue-chip subdivision if half-acre homes in Alexandria when Charlotte Stokes, good wife of a government lawyer, decided to go to work. Not that anyone questioned her going to work. It was just that in the age of women lawyers, doctors, bankers and other white collar professionals, Charlotte Stokes became, would you believe, a hairdresser.

Charlotte Stokes can do a lot of things: she has sold insurance and real estate, driven her children camping across the country in a trailer, managed a fat salon. She has learned to fly a plane. And there she was, freed at last by her children's drivers' licenses, opting to be a hair dresser, a pink collar worker, which is newspeak for the female blue-collar worker. Instead of returning to college, she took 2,000 hours of training to get a hair stylist license in Virginia. She did it and she's glad.

"I have a friend who would really like to be a waitress," says Stokes. "But she'll never do it because we live in such a caste society. People look down on hairdressers and waitresses, cab drivers and truck drivers."

Charlotte Stokes, 47, has been married 28 years, has two children - a daughter, 17, who is entering George Mason University this fall, and a son, 19, who is enrolled in Northern Virginia Community College. Stokes had a year of college at the University of Wyoming and taught for a year before meeting the man who would become her hushand. Then she worked to put him through school. "Everyone was doing it back then." She sold insurance. She and her husband moved to the Wash-salon until her children arrived. Then she stopped working until her daughter was three.

"You can go around cleaning and cleaning only so much." Stokes said. "So I thought I'd do real estate. I got licensed in 1963. That worked out fine for awhile until I found there were times when we were going to the zoo and the phone would ring and there'd be a contract on mommy's property. This is a big deal for the client - they've frequently put their life savings into the purchase, but little children don't understand that."

She stopped selling real estate by the early 1970s. "I tried various other things that I could do at home, where I could control the hours. I found when my kids were in school they needed me certain hours." So Stokes became a teacher's assistance, attended parent-child luncheons and chaperoned field trips. In the summers she took the children on camping trips, towing a trailer across the country and down into the Smokies. "My husband doesn't like camping," so it was Charlotte Stokes who maneuvered the trailer into camping grounds. "My kids would direct me, and you'd hear the men yelling out, 'Hey, Charlie look at the broad over there with the kids.' The women would come over and be just amazed that I could drive a trailer."

But within the past few years, the Stokes' children have started to drive and Charlotte Stokes, like many mothers who have spent years car-pooling their children around the surburbs, was liberated.

She became what the labor department calls a mature woman worker: a woman who, typically, is between 45 and 54 years old, who left the work force to raise her children and is now returning to work. In 1967, according to the labor department, 43.4 percent of these women with children under 18 worked. Ten years later, 51.4 percent of them - 2,342,000 - are working.

In a profile of the mature working woman, the labor department noted: "Mature married women . . . are still less likely to be working than mature women who are widowed, divorced, or separated, because they encounter many obstacles in the job market as they seek to enter or re-enter the labor force. They often find employers unwilling to credit their previous work experience or their activities during the period they were out of the labor force as evidence of future potential. Consequently, with rusty or outmoded job skills, little or no recent experience, inadequate counseling, or a lack of job contacts, they frequently must settle for low-skilled and low-paaying jobs which require little or no specialized training, and which afford limited opportunity for upward mobility."

The median income for the mature working woman in 176 was $8,546 according to a Census Bureau survey. For men it was $15,889.

The number of women in managerial jobs has increased by 600,000, or 50 percent since 1970, according to a State Department report on Women in America prepared for the United Nations in 1977. That report notes an increase in the proportion of female business, law and medical school students, a 44-percent increase in technical programs in vocational schools in the past five years and an 80 percent increase in the number of women enrolled in trade and industrial training programs.

Most women work because they need the money, according to the Labor Department, for reasons varying from divorce to putting children through college. Stokes says she doesn't need the money. "I like to work. I think work is natural part of living. Very few people know can express themselves without working."

Stokes works by appointments which she makes four days a week. This gives her a flexibility she cherishes.

And the house she used to run, who runs it now? "I really feel we have four adults in the house and I'm constantly telling them that. I don't run it with nearly the order I used to. If things get done, fine - if they don't, they don't. I don't feel everything depends on me. I have rejected that role."

She says her husband helps around the house these days and "never minds if I ask him to go to the store. He'll do everything but floors and windows." He will retire in five years. "I don't plan to stop working when he retires," says Charlotte Stokes.

"I think women should be encouraged to do whant they want to do and, more than anything, they should think about what they want to do. Going back to college is fine for a lot of people, but there are so many other things you can do, too."