If you haven’t seen the PBS series, Makers, you are missing a treat. Women have had quite a history in the United States and Makers documents our history through all of the ups and downs.
What fascinates me is looking back at the women’s movement in the 1960’s and learning a great deal about the pioneers for equality at home and work. I was a child in the ‘60’s and I don’t remember a lot about it. My father and mother, typical of their generation, were staid ‘he works; she keeps house’ folks. They both laughed at the news accounts of women bringing the issues of equal employment and equal opportunity to the forefront of peoples’ attention.
I had to wonder about these bra-burners: what were their issues? Why wouldn’t they love a chance to be happy as a housewife and mother? I took a look at my own mother.
She exuded happiness to the outside, but at home she didn’t have a lot else going on. She cleaned the house. A lot. She was so anal about having dinner on the table exactly at five o’clock when my father returned home from work. She waited on him hand and foot.
Many a dinner had been cooked long and hard over an afternoon, for we had no microwaves back then. We had just sat down to eat and my father noticed there was no salt or pepper on the table. As soon as her butt hit her chair, she was back up, scurrying to the kitchen for the forgotten condiments. I remember getting so mad at my dad, why didn’t he just get up and get it himself, without all the fanfare?
Most of the women’s liberation movement and push for equal rights was back page news during my college years. It didn’t die, the points were made and legislative changes were in the works. The media moved on to other news.
I’ve related before how I got into engineering. After seeing Makers for the first time a few weeks ago, I really ‘get it’ now. My career would have been made next to impossible had it not been for the likes of these women who stood up to tradition, realized and accepted their unhappiness as the June Cleaver of their neighborhood and took action. (You young readers may have to Google ‘June Cleaver’; the rest of you know what I’m talking about)
I’m indebted to these courageous women who no doubt faced scorn from their families and friends. Their labor of love opened doors to me in engineering and created opportunities that they may have been unable to experience.
Doing a search for a previous article about the slide rule I found this image:
Yes, it’s for the company I’ve spent over seventeen years with. Times have changed and the company is hiring and promoting more women than ever. But there is still a long ways to go. Believe it or not, there are still men who think a woman’s place is in the home. And that’s good for the women who are in that situation and love it.
Like most things, it’s not for everyone. Our dreams are different and each of our dreams deserves a chance to come to fruition. Here’s to making your dreams come true.
Catch the Makers series on your local PBS station or visit their website, Makers.com. It has the whole series available for view for free.