This is a series of 11 interviews about women’s work and a progressive approach in places one may assume “rural” is equated with an antiquated paradigm. Struggle, challenge, and bias still exist – but consider yourself schooled by these gals and their voices: “You can do what you want and how you want, work well with others, stand up for yourself, believe in yourself, you are responsible for what happens to you…”
The women I spoke with love perfecting their domain, they express deep ownership in their work. They take a great deal of pride in their roles in the mill, in their community, and their families. Any one of them will assuredly tell you their work is done as well as – or better – than a man. They are not wrong. Turnover is minimal, the pay is good, and the work is steady in a small town with limited opportunities outside of mill work.
Necessity opens the door to equal opportunity and innovation that serves everyone. It often requires a re-evaluation of the status quo – and a shift in a class culture that has alienated and defeminized women who make a living getting their hands dirty. Many generations had no difficulty wrapping their heads around a women doing what men did – or men doing what women did. There was a job to do and all that was there – were the hands that were available. Your gender was secondary to need.
“A woman’s work is never done,” was the old adage. The truth is – women’s work is the work that gets done by a woman.