Your view on the changes in women’s roles in the United States typically depends on what year you were born. So many things have changed in regards to women since I was born in nineteen and fifty-seven. Women born before my time can share even more about how our country has changed in regards to women. The history books are full of women who have fought the good fight in regards to helping women get where we are today.
I am not really what you would call a women’s libber, but I do feel that a women doing a good job should be paid the same as a man doing the same job. I also feel that if we are able to stay home and take care of our children and our homes and that is our hearts desire we should have the right to do so without being made to feel inferior to other women. Many times, we as women do not have the choice between work and home because we are single parents and must work to provide. In this and in all such cases then I believe that we should be acknowledged and paid accordingly whether male or female.
I personally love to be treated like a woman, the whole nine yards, with doors being opened and chairs pulled out. My personal opinion is that we can have the best of both worlds. There is no reason we cannot get equal pay and an equal voice and not lose our femininity at the same time. I am a Christian and under Christ I believe we are equal in His eyes and that as far as I am concerned we should follow His leading for our lives. He may lead each of us quite differently. I myself would have loved to stay home with my children but I was not able because circumstances as they were made it imperative that I work to take care of my children. I was blessed in that my mother was able to take care of my kids, for which I am very thankful.
Back when I was growing up we lived in the middle of the country. I was raised in a Christian home and my mom was there every day. It was pretty much typical of a Leave it to Beaver show. My mom was wearing her dress and apron, doing the housework and cooking the meals and doing her very best to make our house a home (without the pearls). I loved having mom at home and she was great at what she did and I can say with surety that she loved what she did. She grew up mostly in the days after World War II and she and her siblings spent a lot of time in the bread lines. They were not wealthy but they got by and while grandpa was away at war my grandmother did work in the factories. Women did a lot of work during wartime but there were pretty much set jobs that they were given. Mostly factory and secretarial work.
Mom married dad, a guy that grew up in a relatively wealthy home with a mom that stayed home. Momma was more than happy to step into this role and thrived in it. It may have depended some on the part of the country you lived in on how this worked but in my world it was the norm. In turn mom and dad were training me to be a wife and a mother, especially since I was the only girl. As far back as I can remember I would sit on the counter in the kitchen and watch my momma make pies from scratch, along with homemade biscuits and dinners that would make the house smell like heaven. I loved to cook and help mom around the kitchen. Housework was not quite as appealing and I will admit it irked me when it was one of my brother’s turns to wash the dishes and they would purposefully do a lousy job so that the job would be given to me instead. I wanted to go out and do the yard as well but this was not a girl’s job according to dad. Those boys!
I was raised during the time when most women were being groomed to be wives and mothers but then it seemed that something changed almost overnight. My parents never talked to me about going to college but they did my older brother. They were continually encouraging him to work towards college. From the insistence of my dad I was in Home Economics for four years during high school and ended up being the teacher’s aide because I was so advanced in Home Economics. I did not mind really because I loved to cook but when it came to the sewing I was not as enthusiastic. I found that through the years however it was a beneficial thing to know.
Growing up and becoming a wife and mother had always been in the back of my mind, I did not really ever imagine a different scenario. But as the end of high school approached in nineteen and seventy-five I could see that things were not going in that direction. My dad decided to have a mid-life crisis and leave at the same time and I was left wondering what I was going to do. Mom was also left in a precarious position which left her vulnerable and hurt. It was not a great time for women raised to be moms and wives. Since I was not prepared for college and financially options were limited I made a decision to go to business school even though during high school typing (on manual machines) I could do no better than twenty-eight words a minute!
It was a step up in business school because of the invention of the electric typewriter which actually had a correction tape. But for those of you that were around during that time you know that this did not help much because when you needed copies you still had to use carbon paper. Nonetheless my typing skills got better and I was able to secure a job with the state at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. My youngest brother was a deaf person so I already knew some signs and was very comfortable and happy there. I was grateful for the opportunity but the pay was not great and being on my own I knew I needed to make a change.
My oldest brother had recently graduated from college and was living in Texas where the jobs were booming. He said I could stay with him while I found a job so I decided to take a chance. I was moving from a town of about thirty some thousand to Houston, Texas and my first interview was in downtown. My brother advised me to go to a personnel agency that specialized in secretaries, clerical workers, and the like because he knew they were looking for a lot of good secretaries at the time. I caught a bus and when I got off I was gripped with terror as I looked up into the sky at those massive buildings all around. There were people living on the streets and asking for money as I walked to the building I was looking for. What a culture shock for me at the ripe old age of twenty-three.
When I arrived at the agency they started me on a battery of tests and when I was done I went in to talk to one of the hiring specialists. She took one look at me and said she had just the job for me. I heard her as she talked on the phone and described me as “the all American, apple pie kind of girl” that they were looking for. I had never thought of myself like this before but I was happy she was on my side in this job search. The next thing I know I was applying for the position of receptionist on the umpteenth floor of a tall building. I did not know what to expect. During this period of time when you went to apply for anything clerical in nature they gave you a typing test, spelling tests, and sometimes even personality tests. This particular job gave me a spelling test which according to the personnel woman I talked to I had “aced”. I was the only one to ever ace it, along with that and my ability to do sign language (which somehow made me seem smart) I got the job. Also at this time, at the beginning of the eighties, I had the “front office appearance” they were looking for. I found out so much about working and what it took to succeed in the workplace during this period of my life.
I actually worked for several women at this job who were “exempt” and executives, something I had not previously been exposed to. I found out something about myself during this time of my life and how I could not only succeed but advance in my field as well. I found out that by being flexible, having a great attitude, being willing to learn, and having a pleasing personality could get you a lot farther than just what skills you had. I learned that even if you do not have a great deal of experience it did not have to hold you back. I learned that just because you did not get the opportunities others did that it did not mean that you could not succeed.
I was able to work my way up in several different places of employment because I was willing to learn, to stay flexible and take on last minute assignments, stop in the middle of one job and start another, all with a smile and a winning attitude. Through all these years I have watched people come and go in jobs, some who were in the top of their field and highly intelligent with high salaries but they could not be flexible and they could not get along with other people. And I have seen that if you cannot be a team player and get along with your co-workers you are not someone who is prized. I guess it all goes back to Kindergarten and the ability to share and get along with the other kids.
After a bad auto accident I was forced to change how I approached working. I found out that sharing my stories and lessons I had learned was something that I loved to do. You could say I ‘fell into’ my dream job. Writing and communicating with other people, especially women, is one of the most fulfilling jobs I have ever had. It does require the flexibility that I talked about but it also allow me to share myself as a person.
I tell you all this to come to this final point, that in our striving to be equal as women we must also remember to be people. The key, in my opinion, in gaining our rights is working in an environment where we respect each other and we work for the good of everyone involved. I know we do not all have the privilege of working in that ideal setting, that there are backwards companies and bosses that do not see it that way. But there are so many places where woman and men alike can excel if they have the right attitude and are willing to be flexible in their roles. I have even heard it said that attitude is ninety percent and knowledge is ten percent when I was working in the personnel department of a company years ago. I have made this my mantra and it has worked out beautifully and I am so very thankful for the way I was raised and where it lead me in my life.Photo Credit : Liza Donnelly
Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.