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Blog archive

July 2024

June 2024

May 2024

Emergency Preparedness: Are You Ready?

Farewell from the 2023/24 Social Work Interns

Gina on the Horizon

Mark Your Calendars for the Healthy Aging Research California Virtual Summit

Meet Our New Development Associate

Putting the Strategic Plan into Practice

Washington Park: Pasadena’s Rediscovered Gem

Introducing Civil Rights Discussions

Rumor of Humor #2416

Rumor of Humor #2417

Rumor of Humor #2417

Rumor of Humor #2418

Springtime Visitors

Freezing for a Good Cause – Credit, That Is

No Discussion Meeting on May 3rd

An Apparently Normal Person Author Presentation and Book-signing

Flintridge Center: Pasadena Village’s Neighbor That Changes Lives

Pasadena Celebrates Older Americans Month 2024

The 2024 Pasadena Village Volunteer Appreciation Lunch

Woman of the Year: Katy Townsend

April 2024

March 2024

February 2024

January 2024

Women's Liberation: Then and Now

By Karen Bagnard
Posted: 03/25/2024
Tags: karen bagnard

So many things come to mind when I think back to the “Women’s Liberation Movement.” There was so much that came back to me all at once. This was a time that all of us in the “elder” age group remember in varying ways.

In the ’60s I was working for the Pasadena Star-News in the National Advertising Department. We only wore dresses, suits or skirts to work. There were a couple of women in the sales department who did wear pants.  They were looked upon as radical.

After applying for a new position in the department, I was told I could not have it: “You don’t need the job. You have a husband.” I was disappointed but I accepted it.  That’s just how things were then.

Soon women were wearing pants to work … although we were often restricted to pant-suits. It was a great change.  “Hot pants” came on the scene quickly after that. While they didn’t last long, they were fun for a time.

Out in the field, up on the pole

One of our Villagers, Patti La Marr, was working for Pacific Bell. In the early ’70s she found herself in the forefront of a changing work environment for women.  

Patti remembers: “In the early 70s AT&T was required to develop an affirmative action program which led to women going into jobs that had been filled by men only. I took advantage of that program and ventured into formerly male-dominated positions.  

Patti working on telephone pole

I was working in the dial tone switch room at the telephone company and the PBX technicians were telling me what a great job PBX installation was. But if I wanted that job, I had to be a station installer first. 

At the time Pacbell was encouraging women to apply for outside jobs that were considered non-traditional for women. The telephone company offered an ‘on your own time’ training class. We met for six Saturdays. We did warm-up exercises, crawled under structures, carried and extended 30-foot ladders against a building and against a wire strand, secured ourselves to the strand and, of course, learned to climb a telephone pole: All of the things one would do if they were out in the field installing phones.  

The photo is of me climbing a telephone pole with gaff hooks. It was a great experience, although I chose a different route and stayed in the switching side (dial tone equipment) of the telephony. Many fond memories of my time at Pacific Bell.”

Breaking credit barriers

When my first husband and I divorced in 1972, we had excellent credit. After the divorce, I could not get a credit card for myself or apply for any kind of a loan. He had all the credit he wanted.  JC Penney and Sears Roebuck were two of the first retailers to offer credit to women. At least I could buy my daughter school clothes.

In 1974 I became one of the first women in Altadena to purchase a home with an FHA loan.  A friend in real estate told me, “we are going to find you a home.”  That almost didn’t seem possible as a single woman with a small child, as I couldn’t find anyone who would rent to me. I finally moved in with my brother. While pickin’s were slim for homes I could afford with my meager income, I did find a place. Little did I realize at age 29 that this home would become filled with rich memories and become the most valuable investment of my life! This month I have been in my home for 50 years.

Ask a guy out?  Ask a guy to dance? What a concept! But we did it. We had given ourselves “permission” to learn what it was like to take that risk. Guys had been taking this risk for years. Now it was our turn. It was fun and most guys liked it. 

Forward or backward?

So where are we now? How much progress have we made in the last 50-plus years? Women still earn far less than men do for equal work. Gender pay-gap statistics show that women earn about 82% of what men do in the same work. Globally the wage gap is about 77% for women, with even less for women with children.

Roe v. Wade passed in 1973, allowing women legal and safe abortions. Now, it has been overturned, 50 years later. In my opinion, this is probably the most significant step backward yet. We Village women are of an age to remember the world when women and teen girls could not access safe abortions in this country.  Abortions were risky on every level … unless your family had money and could get you to a country that had safe, legal abortions. That left most of us out. It’s frightening to think we are back there.

Are women as well-represented in government and leadership positions as they need to be? Not yet. It’s changing but we still have a long way to go. Equal representation in leadership is the key to equality. This is true for women as well as people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. There has to be equality from the top down. We still have a patriarchal society that fights hard against that.

We have come a long way, indeed; however, we have more work to do. Changes come through elections, activism, taking a stand for justice in ALL situations and teaching our young people that diversity, equity and inclusion makes our whole country stronger. It is essential to a democracy.

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