A Tale of Two Kates
Two events in my recent life have me thinking thoughts that should not be taking up real estate in my brain in 2017. One was seeing the excellent film Hidden Figures based on the true story of Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – brilliant African-American women working as “computers” at NASA. These unsung heros of history served as the brains behind the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit.
It was the early sixties and they faced all kinds of racial discrimination like having to use “coloured washrooms”, but they also had to deal with prejudice based on their sex. At one point in the film Katherine is justifying her position at NASA to a man who questioned whether a woman was suitable for the job. She responds with a curt recital of her impeccable qualifications and ends with, “So yes, they let women do some things at NASA, Mr. Johnson. And it’s not because we wear skirts. It’s because we wear glasses.”
I love that black women do sass so much better than, literally, anyone else?
Fast forward 50 years. I’m returning from Winnipeg on a WesJet flight. As the crew are being introduced, my interest is piqued that our pilot goes by “Captain Kate”. It’s not often you hear of a female pilot so I googled her name. I didn’t find any riveting information on her but I did find a story about another woman pilot that stunned me.
Carey Steacy, who flies for WestJet, had flown from Calgary to Victoria on a Sunday, a couple of years ago, when a message written on a napkin by a passenger was brought to her attention.
It was addressed to the captain and stated that “the cockpit of an airliner is no place for a woman.” He goes on to express that he wishes the airline would notify him when “a fair lady is at the helm, so I can book another flight!”
He also references Proverbs 31.
At this point in history? And he’s really going to hide behind the Bible to do this? I guess he missed the part of Proverbs 31 that mentions the “virtuous woman” had a career (verse 24).
I supposed I shouldn’t be shocked. I know sexism is alive and well around the world, but here? Now?
Women in the workforce still have battles to fight. So let’s celebrate International Women’s Day. Let’s do what we can to bring awareness to glass ceilings that limit the potential contribution of our daughters, sisters, wives and friends. Because it’s not just women who get left behind when their potential is untapped.
John Glen might not have made it into orbit until much later when the first IBM computer eventually took over from the dark skinned, bespectacled, skirted ones at NASA. I wonder what other amazing things DIDN’T happen because women were not allowed to contribute…I guess we’ll never know. But let’s determine not to let it happen anymore. Celebrate International Women’s Day by advocating for some woman somewhere. Here are some ways you can:
A21 – http://www.a21.org
Fundraise, pray, participate, donate.
International Justice Mission – https://www.ijm.ca/get-involved
Update your wardrobe and help women escape poverty.
Let Freedom Reign – http://www.letfreedomreign.ca/womens-shop
Defend Dignity – http://defenddignity.ca
Not for Sale – https://www.notforsalecampaign.org
Shop and support Compassion’s child survival program
Compassion Canada – https://www.compassion.ca/shop/csp/.
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