“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ~Toni Morrison
I first began to realize the discrepancies between women’s and men’s rights in high school. Testing in the 99th percentile for mechanical ability and language on the state aptitude test, I was more than qualified to participate in drafting and wood shop—classes I longed to take. Even so, school counselors stuck me in home economics. After all, I was a girl, they said, and the classes I wanted were for boys. That was my earliest taste of the double standard existing between girls and boys. I was furious and felt devalued.
The incident shaped my future.
While attending UCLA, I became a women’s rights advocate and member of the National Organization for Women. I was active in anti-Vietnam war demonstrations. I became, and still am, a vociferous supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. Following graduation, I worked as a secondary history teacher in the Los Angeles City School District and specialized in dissent and reform in American history.
I married a fiction author and moved to Berkeley, California. After securing a job in the telecommunications industry, an engineer mentored and trained me to design and write systems specifications and present bids for new corporate telephone systems. I was thrilled to finally put my mechanical and language aptitudes to work. When the company needed a systems design analyst, the job I was being trained to do, I was first in line with my application—only to learn that women weren’t allowed to apply.
I left that company and found a job that catapulted me into the technology revolution of the 70s and 80s. Besides testing, implementing, and repairing some of the first personal computers used in the banking industry, I was a technical writer and trainer. Eventually becoming a Vice President at Wells Fargo Bank, I managed personal computer, database, and electronic mail programmers and support technicians, a technical library, and a computer-training center. I taught computer courses at San Mateo Junior College and spoke at technology conferences. I founded the Bay Area Branch of the Help Desk Institute to mentor local computer support professionals—mostly women not often respected for their customer service and technical abilities. Later, I became a Technology Director at a Sonoma County School District and President of a California state-regulated water company.
Before my husband passed away, he encouraged me to write about my experiences of workplace discrimination. Instead, serendipity intervened. I met Barbara Dusty Roads and Jean Montague, at the Sonoma County Family YMCA swimming pool and my life changed.
I learned that Dusty was an American Airlines stewardess, union negotiator and lobbyist to Congress who fought sexual discrimination in the airline industry in the 50s and 60s—and won. I learned Dusty worked on behalf of her sisterhood of stewardesses to overturn the unfair age regulation mandating the firing of stewardesses at age thirty-two. The airline industry felt they would be too old and unattractive to perform their job duties by then, a concept inconceivable today. In 1965, a year after the Civil Rights Act passed, Dusty and Jean were the first to enter the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the day the agency opened for business and filed the first discrimination complaint in the United States on behalf of Jean who was about to be fired at the age of 32. Dusty was a labor trailblazer whose charismatic leadership inspired stewardesses to stand up for their civil rights and careers.
Before my husband passed away, he encouraged me to write about my experiences of workplace discrimination. Instead, serendipity intervened. I met Barbara Dusty Roads and her wife, Jean Montague, at the Sonoma County Family YMCA—in the swimming pool. While talking with them, I learned that Dusty was an American Airlines stewardess and her union’s lobbyist to Congress and that she fought sexual discrimination in the airline industry in the 1950s and 60s. They told me she overturned the unfair age regulation mandating the firing of stewardesses at age thirty-two because the airline industry felt they would be too old and unattractive to perform their job duties by then. Dusty said she was the first in the United States to file a discrimination complaint, on behalf of Jean, who was turning 32 and about to be fired, with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on the day their doors opened a year after the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964. Their actions were unique because the agency was expecting to see the first complaints be for racial discrimination, not gender discrimination. Jean told me Dusty was the most powerful voice fighting on behalf of her sisterhood of stewardesses and that her charismatic persona and leadership inspired them all to stand up for their civil rights. Very few people realize that her legacy includes the recognition that women in the cockpit and men in the cabin owe their jobs to Dusty. After I met Dusty, I found that although her accomplishments have been acknowledged in many books, no one had yet written her biography.
Dusty inspired me to write her story, Fighting for Fairness in Flight. I spent the next few years interviewing and conducting research about Dusty’s life and am currently writing her biography. I believe my book will ensure Dusty’s rightful place in women’s history.
My short story about Dusty, “History in Our Midst,” was chosen for publication in the competitive 2017 Redwood Writers Anthology Sonoma: Stories of a Region and It’s People.
I’m a member and past vice-president of the California Writers Club, Redwood Branch, and was co-chair of the Redwood Writers 2018 Pen to Published Writers Conference. I’m a member of the Library of Congress Women’s Studies Discussion Group, Nonfiction Authors Association, American Association of University Women, National Organization for Women, and the American Historical Association.
My hobby, photography, began when I got my first camera in 1960—a Kodak Brownie Flashmite. Today I enjoy exploring and taking photos of landscapes, birds, animals, vineyards, and close-ups of flowers, most often in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. The banner photo on this website was taken at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens in Ft. Bragg, CA. I also enjoy visiting various wineries in the area during my photo journeys. The photo of me in front of the wine barrels was taken during a wine tasting tour inside the Alexander Valley Vineyard’s wine cave. Also, I continue to swim at the YMCA and enjoy traveling.