MY GRATITUDE DETOUR   7 comments

I have my personal gratitude list ready – well, in progress. I’m not sure it will ever come to an end. But listening to an interview with a woman at the Democratic convention yesterday, I was moved to celebrate the changes that I’ve seen in my lifetime relative to the position of women in the United States. So, here’s a list. (No doubt I’m off on time-line, and I’m open to other comments and corrections.)

First, not in my lifetime, but in my mother’s. She had already given birth to my big brother before she was allowed to vote.

  • When my daughter was 13 in the area of New Haven, Connecticut, she was ready to graduate from her Pediatrician to a “grown-up” doctor. She wanted a woman, but there were no women doctors available. Women were not allowed to do residencies at the hospitals there. In fact, I remember how excited some of my own women clients were when women physicians finally became available.
  • Mail carriers were called “Mailmen” because they were all men.
  • Firefighters were called “Firemen” because they were all men.
  • Police officers were called “Policemen” because they were all men.
  • Lawyers were men. The fear was that women entering the profession would reduce the incomes. I think maybe that was proved true. (Se 58% below)
  • Accountants were men. See above.
  • Nurses were women. Some longed for men to enter the profession to raise incomes. (see 58% below.) I believe that has happened. Some will tell you the profession has changed.
  • Bank tellers were all men, unless they were women training the men for higher positons.
  • One of our SCSU graduates (more than one, I’m sure) had to leave her job as a teacher when her pregnancy began to show.
  • Women newspaper reporters were pretty much confined to the “Women’s Pages.”
  • When I had just received my PhD, I was interviewed for the New Haven Register because I was president of our local Lutheran Church Women. They published a photo of me with something I had cooked. Though I was proud enough of my academic accomplishment to mention it more than once, that fact was not included in the description of my important activities.
  • I believe there were no women TV anchors. If there were, they were so rare that I didn’t see them. Why? Women’s voices were “too weak—wouldn’t represent authenticity and power.”
  • Women radio reporters were extremely rare, if any. Why? See above.
  • Women foreign correspondents were next to none, if any. Why? See above, and below.
  • Then there was Ella Grasso who served as the 83rd Governor of Connecticut from 1975 to 1980. She was the first woman to be elected governor of a U.S. state without having been married to a former governor. Letters to the editor during her campaign were filled with fears that she would be irrational during that “certain time of the month,” or permanently disabled if and when she was menopausal.
  • Women generally could not own property in their own names. When I became single after 20 years of marriage and went looking to buy a house, the gentleman agent took me to a few highly undesirable places, telling me I couldn’t expect much more as an unmarried woman. I changed real estate agents.
  • Most libraries at the time wouldn’t give a married woman a card in her own name, requiring her to have one in her husband’s name.
  • When my marriage ended in 1976, most businesses were willing to give me a credit card in my own name since I was now single, but J.C. Penney refused. I haven’t done much shopping there since.
  • Women’s income was 58% of men’s.
  • There were some interesting side effects as businesses and government acted to bring about some balance. When I was first employed at SCSU there was an imbalance in favor of women who could retire at age 50, while men had to wait until they were 55. Balance was finally achieved when the retirement age for women was raised to 55.
  • And there was the decision by the Southern New England Telephone Company to open all jobs to both men and women. Only a few women immediately applied for the higher-paying pole-climbing jobs, but many were the folks who were surprised to hear a man’s voice saying, “Operator.” (That’s the old days with old fashioned phone service in case you don’t remember.)
  • While office managers struggled to remember that middle-aged women were not “girls,” cigarette makers opined, “You’ve come a long way baby.”
  • I suspect and hope there will be additions in the comments on this posting – as well as corrections.
  • One almost final note: When I had completed everything toward my Ph.D. at Boston University and was working on my dissertation, I moved back to Connecticut with my new husband. One of my professors gave me a letter of introduction to a researcher at Yale. I was granted an interview. Not having heard back from him for a while, I called to inquire and was told the Secretary’s job had been filled.
  • One final note. I wasn’t aware that there was anything wrong with many of these factoids. The fish is the last one to notice she’s swimming in water.
  • The hook in the mouth once one gets to see the water may be painful, but certainly the changes that have been made for women over the span of a few decades are causes for gratitude.
  • p.s. I’m grateful for amazon.com who got a new charger to me by overnight delivery.

7 responses to “MY GRATITUDE DETOUR

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  1. Great gratitude list, Mona. You already won the contest!

  2. Exactly what I was going to write!!

  3. Fascinating list. Yes indeed the worlds come a long way. Ireland too has a similar list.

  4. When my brother was in the service on a hospital ship, one of the doctors told him he should be a nurse because of his compassion.  Of course he didn’t because there weren’t any male nurses at the time. Became a teacher instead.

    tappersal@comcast.net

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