In 1965, “romneykat” was a young woman working in the office of a public municipality. She describes her office environment as a world of punch clocks, timed bathroom breaks, and strict oversight. Many of the women there had worked for the municipality for 30 or 40 years. “They looked tired, worn out, washed out and seemed mundane,” she writes. “Lives with little variety, learning, experience, love or laughter. They were what we called ‘Old Maids.’ Women who had never married. Had they married they wouldn’t have been in the work place.” Sexism and racism were commonplace.
Over the course of her career, romneykat watched the working world change for women, slowly but surely. Revolutionary movements, like the women’s movement, had a positive impact on women’s working experiences. With women today earning only $0.77 to men’s $1.00 and being only 17% of the C-suite but 53% of entry-level workers, we have a ways to go. But what we’ve gained is worth celebrating and passing on.
That’s the thinking behind editor and writer Jan Arzooman’s new project, Our Working Life. “This is a podcast for older women to talk to younger women about their working lives: what they did, why they did it, their accomplishments and joys, their difficulties and regrets.” Listeners will hear stories about women and work, gaining an appreciation of how we got to where we are—and hopefully be inspired to continue the journey.
What does all this have to do with editing? I’ll be hosting one of the episodes of Our Working Life, and I’m looking for a woman who has worked in publishing to interview. You don’t have to be retired, but you do need to be “of a certain age”: ideally retirement age or older. Whether you worked in book publishing, magazines, news, or something else connected to publishing, I want to hear from you! You don’t have to have been an editor, either. I’m interested in hearing about how some corner of publishing has changed over the last 40 to 50 years.
You don’t need to prep for the interviews; we’ll talk casually about your career in a short conversation and then a longer one over the phone. Time is short for this project, however: I am looking to do the interviews in the next three weeks. And, sadly, I can do only one interview.
So let’s talk. Tell me about your career briefly in an email and maybe you’ll get to tell your story to young women just entering the workforce and influence the next generation!