Tuesday, May 23, 2017


In yesterday's article I told my friend's granddaughter that I had experienced "a revolution in my lifetime.";  I could tell she thought it was hyperbole.  I just e-mailed this article from Sue's News, published in 2012, to share a few examples:

                   WE'VE COME PART OF THE WAY, BABY!

My friend Lori is young enough (old enough) to be my daughter, if I had been married at 18. Our mutual friend Betty is three years older than I and has children around Lori's age.  Lori, Betty, and I were having dinner together, and I was joyfully telling about recently seeing, hearing, and meeting Lilly Ledbetter.

Lori asked Betty and me if our work experiences had made us into the feminists we are. Suddenly, examples came pouring out of Betty and me. I told Lori that when we were young, we couldn't get credit in our own names. If we were fortunate to secure credit, it had to be in the name of our husband, or father, or by using some subterfuge. 

I told her how I had gotten a Lazarus credit card because a friend of mine worked in the credit department at Lazarus and she submitted information in the name of "P. S. Shirkey", and since it didn't request gender on the application, it was assumed I was a male and I was issued a card. 

When Gerald and I married in 1971, Gerald had never established any kind of credit. When I went to Lazarus to change the name on my credit card, I was informed that the account had to be transferred to Gerald's name as he was considered the "head of household" although I had a larger income than he did and had established credit.   The card was issued with the name MRS. GERALD RAYPOLE, not as Phyllis Sue Shirkey-Raypole.   It wasn't that I was offended to be Mrs., but after all, I had my own name.  I have kept that card because I never want to forget how it was "back in the day". Betty told Lori that when she married she had credit and her husband's credit was bad, but she inherited her husband's poor credit, which she struggled to correct.

Lori said, "I know you guys are telling the truth, but it's still unbelievable!"

We continued with examples, with Lori gasping "WHAT?" at each example.

Betty said, "Women couldn't draw unemployment if their husbands were working."


I said, "A woman couldn't be head of household on income taxes!"


Betty said, "We weren't allowed to work overtime."


I said, "Women were kept out of many jobs such as supervision because the law stated they could only work 8 hours a day."


Betty said, "And we weren't allowed to lift more than 30 pounds."


I said, "We were denied jobs simply because we were of child-bearing age."


Betty said, "We couldn't even apply for police or fire jobs!"


I told her that until 1964 it was legal to pay women less for doing the same work as men.


I said, "That's why the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was so important to women--those damned Southerners like Howard Smith of Virginia, put gender in the bill--to try to get it defeated. Ironically, that Act helped women more than any other group!"

Betty said, "That's karma, isn't it?"

I said, "Now you know why I am always saying thanks to LBJ!"

I HAVE seen a revolution in my lifetime.

I told Lori that when I worked at North American Rockwell, I became the first female Manufacturing Manager in the history of the Company, and that was 1984. 

I told about Carmen Chafin, who was old enough to be my mother and Carmen had worked at North American in the 1950s, 19690s, and 1970s, but women were not allowed to be "A" mechanics, although they were allowed to be the lower-paying "B" mechanics.  During those times, Carmen trained many new male employees who went on to become "A" mechanics. When there were lay-offs,  "B" mechanics would be laid off first; they would keep the "A"--all MALE--mechanics.  After a number of lay-offs and call-backs at North American, Carmen took a job at Western Electric.  When she lost her job there, she returned to North American in 1982; she was hired as a "B" mechanic, despite her prior experience. When Rockwell assumed North American, the Company still had the classifications for "A" and "B" mechanics.   Many men and women, without prior aircraft experience, were hired as "B" mechanics, but Carmen, with her years of experience, was re-hired as a "B" mechanic.  When she told me her story, I immediately went to Human Resources and related the inequity. Carmen Chafin became the FIRST female "A" mechanic at North American Rockwell.

When I began working in a factory, I would never have believed that I could progress as I did; however,  I should have been able to progress further (but that's another story).  

When I see lawsuits filed against Walmart, Goodyear, and other reprehensible companies, I remember the old Virginia Slims commercial You've come a long way, Baby! and I mumble to myself and think, "We've only come PART of the way, Baby!"

Commercial - Virginia Slims Cigarettes 1967... by RetroCafe

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