Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ah, 1980

1980. The year of my birth. The eruption of Mount St. Helens. The Miracle on Ice. The publication of this book:

The card catalog description: Twenty-two young women discuss their work in careers normally considered for men only. Includes astronaut, ship commander, train engineer, steel worker, and minister. The chapters are "interviews" of these women, all in varying careers, all successful and happy.

Also, it looks like a children's book, yes? No.

Honestly, it wasn't as negative as I expected. Cynically, I figured that these featured women would have to fight years of prejudice and injustice, but for the most part, they were able to grab their dream jobs! Or in some cases, fall into them. Granted, their life paths weren't easy. While most all of the interviews found these women marrying and then divorcing before realizing their worth, it seems that the main thing pushing them all was confidence. The stereotypes were still there, but the author (a *gasp* man) did a good job of actually documenting their lives and didn't really inject any personal bias or opinion. Refreshing, that.

I do think that it is amazing how far women have come in the twenty-eight years since this book was published, and knowing that these women - and those like them - paved the way for my future career choices, is gratifying. There is still progress to be made, but it's nice knowing that it's possible. If slow going, that is.

(Sadly, the listing for "astronaut" chronicled the life and career path of Judith Resnik, who later died on the Challenger in 1986.)


mush said...

how often do you say "fireman" or "policeman"? that prejudice is insidious!

Heather said...

mush - I know that the womyinsts (heh heh, PCU) have taken back certain words, but that's a little extreme for me!