“Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.” – Katharine Hepburn
As far as I knew in the 1950’s, I was the only woman working in what once was the men’s world of finance. Even the idea of a man rubbing elbows with a woman in any financial setting sent shivers down the spines of many, let alone the thought of that man viewing a woman as competition for job opportunities.
I vividly remember one instance, where the Master of Ceremony was introducing me to the gathering of businessmen, to whom I was getting ready to speak, when the man on my right shocked me by whispering, “One must wonder what your husband is like. If you were my wife, you would be home, where you belong, having babies.” In today’s society, one would never dare utter those words, for me though, it served as another motivation to keep on my trailblazing path.
Through the good and the bad of these professional experiences, I cannot help but look back on two of the most important men in my life, who helped shape me into the woman I am today.
First, my father, Charles Franklin McKemie, from whom I learned the importance of relationship building, and how to truly ‘win friends, and influence others’.
Secondly, my husband of fifty-three years, James Radford Belt, who never felt threatened by my independence, was always supportive, and although never said it, I believe was proud of me.
Though one could argue, that men have made things tremendously harder for women in the work place, one cannot forget that not all men are the same, and that without them, we would not be tenaciously strong women we have come to be.