Wednesday, March 08, 2017

On Women and Work. Intl Women's Day.

March 8, 2017, International Women’s Day

On Women and Work.
by John S. Wren

Denver— I have three adult daughters, lots of friends who are women, and before he passed on in 1979 my dad and I had frequent disagreements about his oppressive opinions about women and work, so I’m very glad this day has been set aside to reflect on the role of women. 



When I was President of Denver City Club we admitted our first woman to membership. This was back when the Denver Rotary, Lions Club, Optimists, and the rest of the service clubs were men only, and women had just begun to be admitted in other cities across the country.

Not long after admitting Doris Drury, my former economics prof at the University of Denver, Debbie, our first woman board member, was elected, and she was asked to be the program chair.

Valentines Day had always been celebrated by the club, and the program chair announced at a board meeting the speakers who had been invited and their topics: President of a Bank, Women in Business; CEO of a hospital, Women in Medicine; and President of a College, Women in Education.

I asked, “what about women as homemakers?” It seemed like a set-up to invite our wives, most of who worked as full-time homemakers, to celebrate Valentines Day with a program about professional women who worked outside the home. But the program went forward as announced.

After the three speakers had highlighted the vast accomplishments of professional women the floor was opened for questions and I asked the first:

“All three of you have talked about your outstanding careers and you have each also mentioned you are married and have children. My question is this, what has been sacrificed the most because of your limited time, your family or your work?”

Outrage was then displayed, shouts it was not a fair question, shaking of fingers at me, the moderator going to the microphone said, “you certainly don’t have to answer that!!!, other questions?”



One of the older men in the club stood and said, “I’d like to hear the question answered. That’s exactly the sort of question this club has always asked. It seems like a fair question to me.”

Pop and I had disagreed about mothers working outside the home. He thought it was being encouraged by big business because doubling the labor force and would cut wages in half.

“You wait,” pop said, “right now women want to work. It won’t be long before they will have to work because it will take two paychecks to support a family.” 

Turns out pop was right.

And as we look at the problems in the world today, the answer to my question to the City Club speakers is now clear: for most of us both work and the family have been sacrificed.