Home Lifestyle RAMBLINGS: Women in the workforce

RAMBLINGS: Women in the workforce

During last Sunday’s church service at First Baptist in Rockingham, I thought it was a nice gesture to wrap up Women’s History Month (March) by having an all-women group take up the offerings. I even complimented one of the women collecting the offerings and she replied that it was not intentional…there were just no men available.

I almost had to laugh and thought to myself, “Well, isn’t this the way of the world.”

“Semper Fidelis “ is not only the motto for the Marines but can easily be for women of the world also.

After our country entered two world wars, women for the first time entered the work force in numbers never seen before and thus began a rapid emancipation movement for women not only here but also in other countries.

When I finished college in the ’70s, most women were still choosing to go into traditional careers and professions such as teaching and nursing. In the late ’60s, a lawsuit was filed against UNC-Chapel Hill for discrimination against women in the application/acceptance process. UNC-Chapel Hill was pressured to remedy the situation rapidly. I was finishing my sophomore year at UNC-Greensboro (predominantly all female at that time) and decided along with some friends that it might be a good idea to transfer to the “Hill.” We were all readily accepted and began our junior year as Tar Heels. I ended up majoring in English and journalism, envisioning an exciting career in journalism.

After working on two community newspapers, my mom, a public health nurse, persuaded me to go back to school to take education courses and gain a teaching certificate. I followed her advice and never looked back. She was concerned that if I continued working for small newspapers, I would not have the benefits offered by state employment. She was right on the money. Bless her heart!


My mom had a unique history. When she was 3 years old, her father was killed in a coal mine explosion in 1925 in one of the last coal mines to operate in the state (the Coal Glen Mine in Chatham County). In those days, women rarely worked outside the home. My grandmother was approached by several people who advised her to place my mom in an orphanage. My grandmother thankfully had a widowed sister who also had a daughter who suggested that they live together and alternate shifts at a nearby hosiery mill to support themselves and their daughters.

My grandmother later got her LPN certification and did private duty nursing until her retirement. My mom attended the McCain Nursing School at the McCain Sanatorium in Hoke County and received her R.N. certification. My daughter is also a nurse, but I am happy that I pursued a teaching career.

In summary, I am thankful I come from a line of strong women and that today there are so many more options for women in the work force.

Helen Cox is a former journalist and educator in Richmond County.

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