“If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” ~Toni Morrison
Elaine Rock first realized the discrepancies between women and men’s rights in high school. Testing in the 99th percentile for mechanical ability and language usage on the state aptitude test, Elaine was more than qualified to participate in drafting and wood shop—classes she longed to take. Even so, school counselors stuck her in home economics. After all, she was a girl, they said, and the classes she wanted were for boys. That was Elaine’s earliest taste of the double standard existing between girls and boys. She was furious and felt devalued.
The incident shaped her future.
While attending UCLA, Elaine became a women’s rights advocate and member of the National Organization for Women. She was active in anti-Vietnam war demonstrations and became, (and still is), a vociferous supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. Following graduation, she worked as a secondary history teacher in the Los Angeles City School District where she specialized in dissent and reform in American history.
Elaine married a fiction author and moved to Berkeley, California. After securing a job in the telecommunications industry, an engineer mentored and trained her to design and write systems specifications and present bids for new corporate telephone systems. She was thrilled to put her mechanical and language aptitudes to work. When the company needed a systems design analyst, the job she was being trained to do, Elaine was first in line with her application—only to learn that women weren’t allowed to apply.
She left that company and found a job that catapulted her 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, Elaine was a technical writer and trainer. Eventually becoming a Vice President at Wells Fargo Bank, she managed personal computer, database, and electronic mail programmers and support technicians, a technical library, and a computer-training center. She also taught computer courses at San Mateo Junior College and spoke at technology conferences. To mentor local computer support professionals—mostly women not often respected for their customer service and technical abilities—Elaine founded the Bay Area branch of the Help Desk Institute. Later, she became a Technology Director at a Sonoma County School District and President of a California state-regulated water company.
Before her husband passed away, he encouraged her to write about her experiences of workplace discrimination. Instead, serendipity intervened. Elaine met Barbara “Dusty” roads and her friend Jean Montague, at the Sonoma County Family YMCA. She learned that Dusty was an American Airlines stewardess and union lobbyist who fought unfairness in the airline industry in the 50s and 60s…and won. Dusty overturned the rule forbidding stewardesses to marry. She also tackled and abolished 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).
Dusty’s charismatic leadership inspired stewardesses to stand up for their civil rights. Dusty inspired Elaine to write the book—Dusty’s biography, Fighting for Fairness in Flight. She spent the next few years interviewing and conducting research about Dusty’s life and is currently writing the book. Dusty’s life story is entertaining and an essential component of women’s history. Elaine hopes to ensure that Dusty’s legacy is never lost to time or neglect.
Elaine’s 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.
Elaine is a member and vice-president of the California Writers Club, Redwood Branch, and is co-chair of the upcoming Redwood Writers 2018 Pen to Published Conference. She is also 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.
Elaine’s hobby, photography, started when she got her first camera, a 1960 Kodak Brownie Flashmite. Today she enjoys exploring and taking photos of landscapes, birds, animals and flowers, most often in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. The banner photo on this website was taken by her at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens in Ft. Bragg, CA. She also visits various wineries in the area during her photo journeys. Her photo, above, was taken inside the Alexander Valley Vineyards wine cave. Elaine continues to swim at the YMCA for pleasure and enjoys traveling.