Untitled by Ingrid Neuhofer Dohm


Debra Littlejohn Shinder

Much of the media treats the concept of "working women" as if it were a recent phenomenon. Perhaps the idea of pay and recognition comparable to that of men is a new one in many cultures, but performing tasks of equal or greater difficulty and importance is not.

Certainly raising children and managing the complexities of family business rank high on any list of jobs that are vital for the functioning of our societies. Doing those tasks competently requires a level of skill, intelligence, physical stamina and psychological endurance that at least matches the qualifications necessary to run a large corporation. Executives with MBAs and six-figure salaries have been known to throuw their hands up in defeat when faced with the stressors that most "mere housewives" handle as a matter of daily routine.

And in addition to their roles as "household CEOs," women have been working outside the home almost since the beginning of time. Biblical accounts range from those entrepreneural ladies engaged in the "oldest profession" to respected figures such as the Queen of Sheba, who was praised as an "accomplished woman" whose value was beyond pearls. And some modern evolutionists present convincing evidence that early females were toolmakers and hunters, not just gatherers and breeders as often speculated.

Women such as Cleopatra, Queen Isabella of Spain, and Zenobia (Syria, 3rd century A.D.) have held positions of power throughout history. The last was reknowned for her "ruthless ambition." Women have long led social reform movements. Joan of Arc, Carrie Nation, and Susan B. Anthony are only a few who made names for themselves as rebels. The social and hard sciences have produced famous females such as Margaret Mead and Marie Curie. Women "infiltrated" the workplace long ago.

Only recently, however, have women in large numbers been admitted into traditionally male-dominated fields such as law, medicine, police work, truck driving, construction and many more.

This column will. in each issue of Moondance, take a look at the individual experiences of women at work. We will examine the evolving roles of women in the workplace -- the changes in traditional female occupations such as teaching and nursing; "breaking and entering" male-dominated professions; the unique opportunity for women to get in on the ground floor afforded by new, techology-oriented fields.

If you would like to share your experiences as a woman at work, please contact me via e-mail at or

About Debra Littlejohn Shinder.

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