We’ve Come a Long Way, But

There was an advertisement on TV and in popular magazines in the late 60s showing an independent, fashionably dressed, slender woman smoking a distinctive brand of cigarettes with the tag line, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” (Even writing that makes me cringe…)

I grew up in a traditional family in a traditional Midwest America village. Mom thought the way things are are the way they should be—mostly. How I became to be not a traditional Midwesterner, I have no idea. Must be travel and education and my reading of the Gospels.

I was introduced to “women’s liberation” by my second year at university. I met a young woman in one of my classes who proudly told me she was going to become a lawyer. Noticing the look on my face, she challenged, “Don’t you think women should be lawyers?” I replied, “I don’t think anyone should become a lawyer.” But I was not shocked by the idea that a woman could be anything she wanted.

That was 1967. Yesterday, I listened to a panel of women at a technology conference talking about their success and overcoming male reluctance toward giving them a chance. There was the head of the National Basketball Players Association, a Formula 1 racing driver and team leader, and an official in the National Football League. Later, a woman spoke who is now on the Board of Directors of a tech company as a result of completing a program at Hewlett Packard Enterprise that mentor women executives on how to be a board member.

My first thought was, wow, these are some intelligent, hard-working, educated people. Then my heart broke with the thought that in 54 years (actually far more) these people were celebrated as a rarity.

54 years ago I’d have thought that by 2021 people would be judged only by their character, not by gender, race, religion, skin color. Further, that the Christian church has more often been an obstacle rather than an expressway.

I am thankful for companies, churches, and people I meet who are doing the right thing—helping all people learn how to excel and giving them opportunities to prove their worth. And even the small bits I’ve played over the years. Obviously, it’s not enough.

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