Monday, October 2, 2023 Oct 2, 2023
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EDITOR’S PAGE On progress and priorities: voices from D’s Women’s Conference

By Ruth Miller Fitzgibbons |

Co home and say these words, “I am a feminist,” Whisper it if it makes you feel better. Then teach your daughters to say it and teach your sons to say it. Then teach them what it means: that it means equal justice for all. -Linda Ellerbee

With those words, Linda Ellerbee, nationally acclaimed broadcast journalist and the keynote speaker at 0s 1987 Women’s Conference, was interrupted with rousing applause. The remark seemed to strike a chord among the 500 or so women and men assembled in the ballroom at The Adolphus Hotel-people of diverse occupations, political persuasions, and stages of life. Few of them, I believe, would have used the word feminist to describe themselves. Many of them, I imagine, came away with a new appreciation for the spirit if not the letter of the term.

It was a day of rich insight, of spirited probing of what it means to be a woman in Dallas today. To the many D readers who came and participated, we are grateful for your beautifully articulated thoughts. Many of them deserve to be shared.

’’I came across a wonderful line from Isak Dinesen. She was writing of her admiration for the woman who sits on top of a powder keg and threatens to ignite it, knowing all the while there is nothing inside. I think that’s been the situation with women for a long time, really having to live by sheer chutzpah. I do think that’s changing, and thank heaven for it. We have a lot more assets now to take with us into the world, and a lot more opportunity.”

-Lee Cullum, Dallas Times Herald

“When I ask myself, ’Why am I doing this? Why am I leaving a sick child to go to work?,’ I realize that she’s going to be sixteen years old at the beginning of the 21st century. And I think that I work and am motivated because of an overriding mission of wanting to make this world a better place.”

-Frances Phillips, Environmental Protection Agency

“I think I can base my progress upon experience, upon being an active part of the community, and certainly upon salesmanship. I developed a pretty good work ethic in the depths of the Depression in the early Thirties, where if you didn’t work, you didn’t eat, as you can plainly see.”

-Ebby Halliday, Ebby Halliday Realtors

“In the professional accounting arena, it’s very simple to live off of some short-term goals. My early drive was just to get to the next level. It seemed like that guy, and he was always a guy, ahead of me was having more fun than I was.”

-Ellen H. Masterson, Coopers & Lybrand

“As corny as it may sound, obviously, our parents have an enormous influence on what we do. I was very, very lucky in that it probably never dawned on me until into law school that a woman had difficulty in moving through a career path. If you don’t know you can’t do something, then you can fall your way through it-and amazingly, good things happen.”

-Catherine Crier, State District Judge

“If Dallas is Number Forty in the nation in pay scales, that is abysmal and totally unacceptable. Entrepreneurship is the wave of the future; it’s where most of the opportunities for women lie. But sometimes women are their own worst enemies, We fall too much into the Southern woman stereotype, where we don’t want to make waves and we don’t want to demand what’s our right. The solution is to work with leadership on the pay equity issue.”

-Susan Abrahamson, Search/Com Inc.

“Child care is more than just a woman’s problem. Now, as more men are getting custody of children, it seems that corporations now are recognizing the need for child care facilities on the premises. And that is something that the corporations are taking into account, We need to view child care as a national problem, one that requires a national mandate.”

-Regina Montoya, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld

“Why don’t more women run for political office? One reason is that women believe that they need all the answers to serve in a public office, whereas men say, ’Oh, I’ve got good judgment, I’ll get there and then I’ll come up with the right answers.’”

-Helen Giddings, The Dallas Alliance

“When you get a group of men together and ask them what are the issues of the day, the discussion goes beyond child care.” -Merrie Spaeth. Spaeth Communications

“I’ve been a lawyer for seventeen years, and recently I went to a board of directors meeting of a group where we were going to make an audit presentation. Before the meeting, I was milling around meeting everyone, and someone came up to me and said, Aren’t you the Mary Kay representative?’”

-Harriet Miers, Locke Purnell Rain Harrell

“On the subject of ’having it all,’ there is a danger that an attempt there might result in a fairly shallow experience of each of the areas of our lives, and we might begin to think instead of ’phasing’ our lives. You can have it all, you just can’t have it all at once.”

-Sonja Bemporad, Child Care Dallas

“The basic problem before women in Dallas today is a personal one: self-image, self-esteem. It is not necessarily the organizations that women are in that limit them. It is women who limit themselves. And the way to address that is through education. There are some basic problems there. Kids enter school with high self-esteem and somehow, twelve years later, many of them leave school without it.”

-Kathryn Cain

“What I tell young people is, my story is not nearly as important as the book you will write in ten years.”

-Ellen H. Masterson