March is International Women's History Month, which, remarkably, began in 1911 and highlights the journey of women who felt destined to accomplish new feats despite their plight in the workplace.
Before World War II, women held jobs as secretaries, receptionists, store clerks, nurses and teachers. They accepted societal restrictions, and considered themselves lucky to have the opportunity to work. The war relaxed restrictions, as men to entered the military.
Women's Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPs, were the first women to fly American military aircraft, accumulating more than 60 million flight miles and enabling thousands of male U.S. pilots to begin active duty in World War II. More than 1,000 WASPs served, but with prejudice; they were classified as civil service employees without official military status, honors or benefits. They did not receive full military status until 1977. Not until 65 years later did they receive the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the highest civilian honors.
Though 310,000-plus women worked in the U.S. aircraft industry, representing 65% of the industry's workforce, women received half the wages men received and were pressured to leave their jobs when the men returned home from the war. Most women returned to the role of homemaker. Fast-forward to 2020.
Kate received a bachelor's in marketing, communications and public relations, and she worked in economic development marketing. After several vacations to Breckenridge, Colorado, she moved there to work in radio and then retail. After three years of loving the active, healthy lifestyle, she realized it wasn't her calling, so she returned home to be near family. Two years later, her life changed. Her mother was diagnosed with stage four cancer and passed within four months. By helping her mother during that time, she felt a calling to serve. Kate is now training to be a hospital pharmacy technician and will soon be board-certified. She works with all women (and one man), who successfully work as a team delivering "meds to beds." She now has to dress in protective suits, gloves and masks during the coronavirus pandemic.
Her experience caring for her mother helps guide her as she interacts with patients and their families. It takes a sensitive, service-minded person to ease the minds of those with loved ones infected with the virus. Despite the health risks, she has found a home in health care and feels service is a heartfelt passion. Working with like-minded individuals has encouraged true friendships and allowed her the comfort of being home. "I think once women find their calling, it can lead to a happier lifestyle. I wake up happy to go to work."
RuthAnne "RA" Anderson was 12 years old when her parents uprooted their family, leaving behind their horse ranch, meaningful friendships and beloved pets in Southern California for the chance to live on a 53-foot sailboat. RA turned to journaling as an outlet for the traumatic upheaval she was experiencing. After a year of living with her family on the boat, her parents sent her to live on a Kentucky horse farm owned by author Helen K. Crabtree and her husband. RA spent four years training to be a champion rider of American Saddlebred horses, going on to win 15 world championship titles and still journaling. Following her heart, RA left the horse farm at 17 to study journalism and photography. At 25, she submitted stories to a publisher who sought to change everything, so she legally withdrew her potential books. But her passions moved forward and led her to create a photography business focusing on high school sports events. Though her photography became successful, she sees herself as a storyteller. She wrote stories to entertain her children and decided to self-publish them. Though directed at children, they've become popular with adults. The worst advice she received was from adults telling her to find a career to have for the rest of her life. She thought it was a terrible idea and pursued working only on projects she loved. That path has led to the book "Girl Sailing the Western Star" and the Puffin Book series. She is working on her 11th book and is now a recognized author, the result of following her heart.
Barbie dolls guided Amber to her calling. She didn't play with the dolls; she styled their clothing and hair. Her professional interested peaked when her first salon experience was a disaster. After leaving the salon in tears, she successfully restyled her hair. Amber's mother suggested she do her own from that point on. In high school, her friends lined up in her family's dining room on the day of a school dance. Amber knew then she wanted to enter the cosmetology program after graduation. Though she loved hair design, she almost quit the program because, as a lefty, she couldn't use the school's right-handed scissors. A simple switching of hands saved her career.
She wanted to learn as much as she could, but her first job lasted only two months. She left to work at another salon chain, and disliked it for the same reasons — negative management rules and customers who only showed up with discount coupons. Her dissatisfaction with salon chains motivated her to open her own business. For the last 13 years, Amber has developed a loyal following where most of her clients have become friends. Due to the coronavirus, her state issued a mandatory order to close, so much to her clients' disappointment, she responsibly followed the laws and called everyone to explain the situation. Her clients range from workers in health care, factories, construction, corporations, and small businesses, so they all understand the importance of the rules. She is committed to hair design and when the current ban is lifted, she will throw a party welcoming the return of clients.
Email career and life coach: [email protected] with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit www.lindseynovak.com, and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.
Photo credit: skeeze at Pixabay