During the 1970’s and 1980’s I kept my eyes, ears and heart attuned and ready, waiting for a woman mentor who could guide me as I moved upward in higher education administration. When I became Director of Planning and was the first woman to sit in the President’s Cabinet at the college where I worked, I turned a deaf ear to the suggestion that “Someone should take minutes.” I felt smug in ignoring this misogynistic statement, but wished I had another woman to advise me about my behavior.
I was the first woman to allocate the college budget and eventually the first woman to serve as Executive Vice President and CFO. It was only a few days after my appointment that I stood in my spacious office, dwarfed by the massive desk in one corner, and uttered something I hadn’t even realized I was thinking.
“Shit!” I blurted out loud to the empty room, “I’m it!”
The fact that I had no model for how to mentor other women did not deter me. Every woman I encountered, and later some men, were objects of my attention and advice.
When I finally retired from higher education, I set aside my pragmatic side and returned to the artistic bent of my younger days. Deciding to “become” a writer (and it is definitely a process of “becoming”), I was not surprised when my scribblings all turned into stories about women. My shorter stories are about contemporary and fictional women, but my drafted novels are about historical women of Venice who lived outside their times. “The First Woman To. . .” project combines two of my passions: promoting women and telling their stories. I believe that we must preserve women’s achievements, large or small, so that we may have a model for living our own lives.
As women usually do, I hope that you will collaborate with me.