My mom was born in 1915, five years before women got the vote. She was a working mom when it wasn’t so common and I took care of my brothers, loosely speaking. Many a time I was asleep in my Dad’s armchair when mom got home with no idea where the boys were.
But as I got ready for college, I was advised to get a degree in education so I would have something to fall back on if something happened to my husband. But guess what! I graduated in 1972 with no MRS degree and no clear plan for what I wanted to be when I grew up.
That was the year Title IX was signed into law, which greatly changed sports for girls and women. My daughter swam through high school and college. I’m so grateful for the opportunities she had that weren’t available before Title IX.
I was fired from one of my first jobs because I was what would now be called a whistle blower. I worked for Community Court Services, an organization designed to protect the rights of people who were arrested but couldn’t afford to post bond.
My boss asked me to fix the stats on pretrial release recommendations so they aligned better with the Court’s decisions. I refused, resigned, gave an interview to a friend who worked for the television station, and was promptly fired. I was 24 years old.
Anita Hill brought attention to sexual harassment sometime during my career as an educator. It’s still a huge risk for a woman to make an accusation such as she did. I can only tell you I’ve had only a few male bosses that wouldn’t have qualified for harassment charges over the years. I finally took a complaint to the university. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
Women across the world are at various stages of equality. Biology and culture are just two of the things that contribute to uneven rights, pay, and treatment. The work of the women’s movement is far from finished.
We must continue to negotiate for fair pay, for protection from abuse, for the right to work with dignity. I’m so grateful to all the women who came before and to those who will continue the work long after I am gone.