I am currently writing a children’s biography of Mark Colter, a woman architect in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A reader challenged me on a sentence that women to succeed had to be better than men.
This sent me to the Introduction of The First American Women Architects by Sarah Allabeck. While Allabeck doesn’t state it as a fact, she outlines how few woman were accepted in the American Institute of Architects. At least two were voted in because the all male membership thought they were men. Many women, including Mary Colter, signed their names with only their initials, so no one could identify whether they were men or women.
I’ve heard Helen Thomas, the first woman to be assigned to the elite group of the White House press corps. She weathered many storms to became its icon and most famous member. She had to prove herself to the men.
This also sent me to thinking of my own experience. In the mid1970s I signed on as a stringer for a daily newspaper and covered western Montgomery County in New York. When I first appeared at a town or village board meeting, I was the only female reporter, and sometimes the only female in the room. To establish myself as a reporter, I only had my writing. I know I felt I had to work to turn out truthful unbiased articles to be accepted by the boards I covered, or they would never give me news not covered at a meeting.
There are other facts to prove this case. Can you think of them? Did you experience one?