Even though we don’t currently consider working women to have truly broken through the proverbial Glass Ceiling, women have been trail-blazing for some time. Gutsy women break glass.
Remember Rosie the Riveter? Women flooded male-only jobs during WWII as men enlisted in the war effort. Over 6 million women built planes, bombs, tanks and other weapons. Women operated heavy machinery and worked in lumber and steel mills. Child care centers were built close to the factories. This created an entirely new image of women in American society.
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Even then, women war workers were paid only 60% of male wages. Did this discourage women? No. They took great pride in what they did. Women continued to make important progress in male-dominated professions. Three black women working as “human computers” at NASA in the 1950’s and beyond are famous. Gutsy women break glass.
Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson were the brilliant minds at NASA behind the launch of John Glenn into orbit that changed the course of Space Race history. And this wasn’t their only NASA claim to fame. This incredible trio of African-American women crossed all race and gender lines inspiring us to dream big!
Gutsy women break glass.
Determination. Never give up. Dorothy, Katherine and Mary had gumption and were determined to be successful in a man’s world. Mary was so determined to become a NASA engineer that she successfully petitioned the court to attend an all-white college to take the required advanced engineering classes. She became NASA’s first black female engineer.
Your staff matters. Be tough yet caring and make sure your staff is treated respectfully by everyone. Dorothy was the first African-American woman supervisor at Langley Research Center. Whenever a new opportunity for her was discussed, she immediately asked what would happen to her staff. When she was finally promoted, she made certain that all her staff was transferred with her (rather than being laid-off).
Read the writing. Learn trends in your profession and pivot your career. Dorothy is a great example of this. She knew when an IBM mainframe computer arrived that it would replace her and her staff. She took action. Dorothy taught herself FORTRAN and practiced on the IBM after hours. She taught her staff the programming language so they were prepared for new positions.
“No” is not an option. Katherine was placed in an all-white male engineering group and work life was rough. The men thought she wasn’t as smart and that she was there just to check their calculations. It was just the contrary. Katherine was literally a human computer and developed calculations for trajectories, launch windows and return paths. “No” was not an option for her or for the astronauts. She was known for accuracy in computerized celestial navigation.
A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
~ Karen Bullard – Have you been thrown into a leadership position and feel like a fish out of water? Discover “Your Leadership Style” with and get back in the water!