When I was 18, I got a summer job out at one of the AEC plants (Atomic Energy Commission now Dept. of Energy). There were 3 plants built by the government in the secret town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, during World War II. One plant was K-25 (the Army used number designations) also called the Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The second plant was an auxiliary plant that did work for the other two called Y-12. My father worked there when I was growing up. The third plant was X-10, The Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where I worked for 3 summers after high school.
During the war, many women worked at the plants but by the time I worked there in mid-1960’s, most of the women working at X-10 were secretaries. I remember seeing a lady many mornings as I walked past the guard stations to enter. She had shorter hair, little make-up, slacks and a determined look. The first time I saw her I thought she looked a little masculine but later decided she was a scientist who wanted to be taken seriously. She wouldn’t have gotten respect in heels and a straight skirt. She probably worked hard to get that job and had to be even better than the guys to keep it.
Times have changed and most of us ladies wear slacks often and more women have gone into male dominated fields, but some things still haven’t reached a point were girls are totally accepted in all professions. Yes, I know female bodies aren’t as strong muscle-wise as men but in many ways a woman’s body is just as strong in handling the pain of childbirth. The Myth Busters did an experiment with volunteers and an icy bath. Women in general held out longer than men by about 16 seconds. Nothing to brag about. Women who had experienced childbirth without pain killers outdid everyone else.
I had a friend in Ft. Lauderdale who was a pioneer in the police department and rose to a high rank before retiring. She kept her hair short and wore little makeup. She had to fit in a male dominated profession that she loved and excelled at. Unlike Hollywood’s idea of female detectives looking sexy while working cases, real life police work leaves little room for that.
Today there are programs trying to get young girls more involved in math and science. Times are better in that respect, but when you look at the statistics of salaries of men vs. women, men are on still another level. Unfortunately, many women can end up being a single parent having to work and to raise their children alone. Women are incredibly strong and resilient, and I applaud you in your determination to provide for your children. You deserve equal pay for equal work.
In 3rd world countries, charities have found giving small loans to a woman can change her village. She starts a little business, pays back the loan, and gives others employment. The same type loans have been also given to men but the impact on their village have been small. Women think family and friends and one small loan has impacted dozens of people. (see National Public Radio’s post on MicroLoans.)
Today I’m writing to encourage everyone to take a moment to be aware and knowledgeable about women’s achievements. March 8th each year is the International Women’s Day (IWD), a time for celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year the call to action is Balance for Better Campaign.
I’m sharing two prints that you can use as cards or decor celebrating Women’s Day and Girl Power. First is a cottage card wishing Happy Women’s Day with watercolor flowers, sized 8.5″ x 11″.
Second is a modern Girls Power quote, “I’m not bossy, I have leadership skills.” Sized 8.5″ x 11″
Let’s remember outstanding women in all fields.
Madame Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize when she won in Physics in 1867. She then won again in Chemistry making her the first person to win two Nobel Prizes. She worked with her husband for many years discovering plutonium and radium. After his death, she continued her work leading to the development of X-rays.
Jamaican-born Mary Seacole (1805) took to a life of adventure, traveling the world and nursing the sick. A woman traveling alone was unheard of in her time. In 1854, England’s War Office refused to fund a trip to Crimea, where she planned to work as an army nurse. Seacole raised her own funds, traveled there, and founded the British Hotel, which provided a mess-table and housing for sick and wounded officers. Her novel, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands, published in 1857, was one of the first travel memoirs ever published by a black woman. Read more about her amazing life at National Geographic.
Isabella Bird, Illustration: Wiki Commons
Today many of us follow the adventures of travelers on blogs, Twitter, and Instagram. If they had been around in the late 19th Century, we would have been following Isabella Bird. Her travels included places like Malaysia, India, Japan, Singapore, Tibet, Persia, Turkey, China, Vietnam, Iran, Korea and Morocco. She’s famous for her poetic description of her 1873 ascent of Longs Peak, the highest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park. She was the first woman ever to be inducted into the Royal Geographical Society and wrote several best-selling books of her adventures often alone and unarmed in America and the Rockies.
Let us never forget the pain and suffering of the suffragettes who not only obtained women’s voting rights but also led to the challenge of old practices both cultural and legal that considered wives the property of their husbands. Whatever money and land you had at marriage could be quickly taken away by your husband. Susan B. Anthony is a hero whose work is now taken for granted. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted the right to vote to all U.S. women over 21 in 1920, is known by her name. According to the Susan B. Anthony House museum, she participated in her first women’s rights convention in 1852. Over the next 54 years, she published The Revolution, circulated petitions for married women’s property rights, established a press bureau to provide articles to national press outlets, gave speeches, formed Working Women’s Associations for the publishing and garment trades, called the first Woman Suffrage Convention in Washington, D.C. (1869), and was arrested for voting (1872). She was also a vocal advocate for abolishing slavery and improving workers’ rights, higher education for women, and training standardization and registration for nurses.
Photo Everett Historical/Shutterstock
Most importantly, let us remember the stirring words of a young woman in hiding in WWII who challenges us to remember that people are good and things can get better no matter how dark the day.
Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness.
For more inspiration see Reader Digest’s article, 21 Women Pioneers Who Changed The World.
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