Friday, November 21, 2008
Whether or not you agree with Obama's pick, you have to admit that Hillary's appointment says something about how times have changed since I was a kid, when girls grew up to be only one kind of secretary and the only cabinet they worked with was in a kitchen.
Being a secretary was a job I did not aspire to. (I thought waitressing better: at least you got tips.) So when I was in college and looking for summer work, I snubbed Katy Gibbs and Kelly Girl and drove over to Manpower Employment Agency instead. As its name suggested, it listed jobs for men. But by the early 70s, there were laws that said they had to list jobs for women, too.
I'd seen an ad they'd run for a landscape worker, thinking how nice and tan I'd get by July. But when I asked about it, I was told I'd come to the wrong place. "This is the men's side. The woman's side is around the corner."
I went back out and through another door and there I found listings for secretaries, cashiers, nannies, candystripers, restaurant help. But no jobs outdoors. And no pay that approached what was offered on the other side.
So, I drove home, took off my interview dress, put on overalls, came back and (deep breath) walked through the men's door. My reappearance caused much consternation. "You can't take a job away from a man supporting his family, honey," I heard not only from the woman (!) behind the desk, but from men in line behind me, hoping for work. I saw their point. I really did. Part of me felt sorry for them. But part of me felt I had a right to work, too.
I held out for a day or so before taking a summer job as a waitress.