According to the Detroit Free Press, the most likely company to have a woman in charge of all its operations in General Motors.
“I don’t know when, but I think there are an unbelievable number of women in automotive, certainly at General Motors,” current GM CEO Dan Akerson told the Free Press. “It is inevitable.”
When that move is made, it will mark another major milestone for working women.
Through the years, women have been making significant inroads in occupations once dominated by men. We are now seeing more women holding down key leadership positions in business and in government. Martha Stewart, Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton, of course, come to mind when talking about successful women leaders.
Climbing the corporate ladder or holding down leadership positions in other fields hasn’t always been easy for women. Many of them have had to juggle taking care of children as well as taking care of responsibilities at work.
When a child is sick, it is usually the mother who has to stay home and miss work. And, in some cases, a man’s career goal takes center stage over a woman’s goal.
My wife, Marilyn, had an opportunity years ago to teach foreign language classes at Fremont High School. She didn’t pursue that opportunity because I had just accepted a newspaper position in Flagstaff, Ariz.
I’m sure there are many other examples of women having to take a back seat in pursuit of their career goals.
Obviously, job opportunities have improved for women through the years. More women are now working in fields once dominated by men. The Detroit Tigers, for example, has a woman chief groundskeeper. We have had a woman governor.
Locally, a number of women hold key leadership positions. For example, Christine Burns is Spring Lake Village’s manager.
Times certainly have changed since I was a kid. When I was in high school, for example, I don’t remember any women in administrative positions. Female students were encouraged to go into teaching, nursing or secretarial positions. They weren’t encouraged to become Navy pilots or groundskeepers.
Even when I was in the Navy, there were no women aboard our ship. Those females who were in the Navy were assigned desk jobs or to other less strenuous jobs.
Now, we have women serving in combat positions. I recently watched a special on the National Geographic channel about pilots aboard the USS Enterprise. One of the top-rated pilots was a woman.
I worked in a field in which women have excelled for years. Newspapers didn’t hesitate to hire women reporters.
But I venture that the road to leadership positions for women wasn’t easy.
I once interviewed for a position with a fairly large Texas newspaper. The editor asked me the normal questions about my skills and experiences. Then he asked me a question that caught me off-guard: “Could you work for a woman?” I was stunned but quickly answered yes.
I didn’t tell him that my very first editor was a woman. She was an excellent journalist. She was a very good writer and reporter. I could surmise that there must have been issues in the past with men having difficulty working for women
The Tribune has been fortunate to have a number of excellent women reporters and editors. Cheryl Welch is now the editor of the Tribune. Becky Vargo, Krystle Wagner and Marie Havenga round out the field of women journalists at the Tribune.
I don’t like using a cliché, but indeed, women have come a long way. Let’s hope the doors to opportunities for women keep opening.
— By Len Painter, editor emeritus