Swimming upstream in the workplace

At the time, I didn’t notice it, how hard it was. In the ’60s and ’70s, we moms didn’t even think of having it “all” or “leaning in.” We thought we were lucky to have a smidgen. We were swimming ‘in the water.”

Then I read Tom Watson’s account of how the Watson dynasty built IBM  (“Father, Son & Company..”)  and I came across my old yellowed copy of a Rockefeller funded book project to encourage women to enter the workforce entitled (get ready) “How to go to work when your husband is against it, your children aren’t old enough, and there’s nothing you can do anyhow.”

You may have my copy of the latter. It was put out by Catalyst, founded in 1961 to make workplaces better for women. That was the year I graduated from college and — newly married and out of the workforce — I had NO idea how hard things were for women.

Watson’s book is a good read. But if somebody like Watson had published his autobiography in the ’70s, I might have recognized how badly the deck was stacked against women.  Everywhere where you  might think Watson would refer to “they,” “employees,” “managers,” whatever term — he uses the pronoun MEN. There simply weren’t any women in his ken. All men. 

That was the way it was, then. It was ordinary. When my husband went to a summer training program at IBM, the class picture had two women and 30 men.  It was in the water.

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