Interviewee: Irene Tinker
IWY TX 506
Interviewer: Pamela Jacklin
Date: November 18-21, 1977
Irene Tinker was a specialist in city and regional planning and women’s and gender studies. At the time of the interview, Tinker was fifty years old and serving as the director of the Office of Policy Planning at ACTION. She attended the IWY conference as one of forty presidential appointments made by President Carter. These appointed individuals gave short briefing sessions about their jobs and their work. Interview includes discussion of: the increasing number of women in policy-making positions; women in academia; Tinker’s experiences traveling and working in India and Indonesia; Tinker’s childhood and the influence of her parents on her career and activism; her son and daughters’ support of women’s rights. Issues important to Tinker include: future strategies for the women’s movement; women and development internationally; passing the Equal Rights Amendment; and women’s opportunities in higher education.
Pamela Jacklin: Irene, I’d like to ask you some background information, please, for the record. Would you give us your name and address and occupation?
Irene Tinker: Home address?
PJ: Yes, please.
IT: Irene Tinker, T-I-N-K-E-R, 4818 Drummond Avenue, Chevy Chase, Maryland 20015. Want my phone number, too?
PJ: Actually we have asked that, so. But I’m not sure what good it would do. (Laughter)
IT: Home is (301) 654-8829.
PJ: Okay, and your occupation?
IT: Presently I’m the director of the Office of Policy and Planning at ACTION, and an assistant director at ACTION.
PJ: Okay. What brought you to Houston?
IT: Two things, one I am one of the 40 presidential appointments that Carter has made of women and all of us were invited to come and give short briefing sessions, discussing what our jobs were and where we work. And this has been going on in the Convention Center, unfortunately simultaneously with the other activities, but they have I think had three rooms going for an hour at a time for the whole period. So they’re, almost all of the 40 are here. And the second reason is because of my long-term activity in international affairs. There is a special international program which includes some 55 women from around the world who come to observe and to participate in the IWY Convention, and they again have been simultaneously meeting. And we had one yesterday afternoon talking about the problems caused by the lack of women in the foreign affairs establishments and what could we do about it.
PJ: You’re one of the 40 presidential nominees. Can –
IT: Not nominees anymore.
PJ: – it’s appointees, excuse me, there were –
IT: Thank you.
PJ: – far more nominees. (Laughter) Appointees.
IT: No, I don’t think so, I mean, the nominees have all become appointed is what you’re saying, but there were many more people who thought they were going to nominates.
PJ: Right, okay. (Laughter) We’ll get it straight for the record, yet. What I wanted to ask about that was whether or not you felt the Women’s Movement had had any impact on the number that Carter appointed.
IT: Absolutely. There’s no question in my mind that the Women’s Movement was instrumental in seeing that these large numbers of women who are in important policy-making positions but are not quite high enough to be widely known about in the press, that this level of appointments is absolutely essential to create a pool for the more visible appointments that are likely to come. This is a level that has been totally ignored by previous presidents and is therefore I think very important to note that Carter has done this. There are people who will argue that there were more presidential appointees and more women in the administration under Ford, but most of those women were appointed to advisory committees who had no power whatsoever. I think a large number of them were on the national endowment for arts or something like that. And that there were just no women at this level of presidential appointees, and the next level underneath which are also political appointees known as Schedule C positions. And there are probably, if there’re 40 presidential appointees there’re probably 100 at the next level as sort of the, my deputy for example, my special assistants it’s on, and it’s again at that level that we’ll be able to move up. And we’ve now got what we’ve never had before was a ladder, a career ladder if you will of people at different levels who can then be tapped for all sorts of positions in and outside the government.
You asked about the role that the Women’s Movement had. There’s several things that happened; there was in the fall a Women’s, I believe organized by the Women’s Action Alliance, there was a meeting in Washington which Carter addressed. In fact I think both Carter and his opponent were invited but only Carter accepted and it was at that meeting that he promised to support the ERA and definitely came out and had the support of women. The only thing many of us aren’t happy about is his stand on abortion. There was also organized and many of us were members of the 51.3% Committee, which was a committee of women to support Carter. And I think unfortunately like many of the other activities to bring in citizens to the campaign there was the logistical difficulty of really using the wide support, especially because the people who have worked so long and hard on the campaign in Georgia did not always welcome outside support. And I think there is an ongoing – tension is too strong a word but there is clearly a question as to, to what extent some of the Carter, the people close to Carter support the Women’s Movement. I think it’s fair to say that there are a number of the southerners are not, I think, supporting the Women’s Movement so I think if there had not been the continued pressure of the women’s groups I suspect there would have been less, many fewer women put in these positions.
What happened in Washington – let me say in addition to the 51.3% Committee, there was also the Democratic National Committee had a women’s group and they had been for a long time collecting vitae, resumes of women who were interested in jobs and were trying to put these into some sort of computer file form so that when a job came up there were going to be candidates. Because one of the things we wanted to ensure was that it was no longer going to be possible to say we can’t find any. After the election was over these two groups tried to put there vitae together along with all the other thousands of vitaes that came through, and I’m sure there were a lot of inefficiencies and other kinds of problems as to how you could, in fact, make visible all of the qualified women. And in order to ensure that something happened the women’s groups got together under the leadership of the National Women’s Political Caucus. Betty King was one of the people who was very instrumental, she is here at the Convention. And what they did was first of all have a coalition of women’s organizations and when a job – these were focusing then on the higher level jobs – when a job came up each of these groups were able to pull from their own files names of women. To some extent that defeated the wide span of the vitaes that were available but most, at the higher levels if women or men aren’t well known they aren’t going to get the jobs anyhow. So this enabled the women’s organizations to start producing names.
Now there was a lot of effort focused on the transition team and a lot of women went and visited the teams. Now, it was quickly apparent that after the first round of high level appointments were made that each individual appointee, that is the head of the cabinets, were given rights to set up their own and hire their own next level. Which meant that women’s organizations basically had to start all over again, as did everyone else, and go and lobby in effect each department for additional people. There were some exceptions, that is to say clearly the Carter campaign had some people they wanted to place but in effect each time you move down a level you kind of had to start with your lobbying over, so there were then groups of women who went for example to call on bans for, whether somebody went to the Department of Labor, another group, often different actual individuals, because the ones who had expertise would go to those and say, where are all these women, and we have all these names, who would you like to have? And it was that persistence that paid off because again whatever influence the immediate people who surrounded Carter had was diluted by this so that even if there wasn’t such strong support, say among the White House group, there often was strong support elsewhere.
Now, and each cabinet person appointed people differently because they each use their own networks because it’s very important to political appointees they have people around them that they feel comfortable with. And I think that’s all the more reason why it is significant that so many of us have been appointed, because many of us were not in the networks of the people for whom we now work. And so there was a receptivity in many places. I think ACTION probably has the most startling statistics out of the top six appointments for our women to our black and one black man and one black woman, and then at the next level of these Schedule C appointments we have, for example, two Chicano men and again at least one other woman. So I think of all of the agencies, Sam Brown has really taken this directive to heart. I think only one or two of the top 12 people, two of the top 12 people in our agency were personally, you know, close friends with Sam so he did not bring in his boys or girls so to speak, which is not true of a lot of the others. And it’s the ones that brought in a ready-made team that were the hardest, if you will, to crack. Now with so many women working at the median levels I think what will happen is that important networks will increasingly include women. That I think is the beginning of real equality because for better or for worse that’s how you get jobs, especially in Washington but I’m sure in other bureaucracies. It’s when a job is open, it’s who do you know and who can you call from who do you know, and it’s an old-boys network, it’s got to be the old-girls network and increasingly it will be the urban network or the foreign affairs network. And you know, who do you know in those positions. And as long as women keep up some kind of pressure that there has to be women I think now it’s going to be almost impossible for any group to say, where are they, we don’t have any.
PJ: Two questions come to mind when you say that. One is in particular in the Justice Department there was a lot of criticism of President Carter when he was making his appointments for not considering women initially for that position. And of course, Barbara Jordan’s name was mentioned by many people as a possibility for Attorney General. And then when Griffin Bell was questioned rather seriously about his record, particularly in relation to women, it appeared from the outside that there might’ve been a great deal of pressure for him to appoint. I’m wondering if that was left to Bell or whether Barbara Babcock might’ve been the result of the Women’s Movement’s pressure directly from the Carter level down or?
IT: I’ve spoken optimistically about what I think you can take as the plus side because it is a plus in the long run. The negative side is that most of the women are in positions that are low status. The two women in the cabinet are in, if not the lowest two positions, awfully close to it. The two high women in the State Department, Under Secretary and one Assistant Secretary, happened to be put into positions. Lucy Benson’s position before she was there was a two person job, it was kind of a nothing position. And the Assistant Secretary that Patsy Mink has is for oceans, environment, and science. It happens that I was working with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the science community felt very unhappy that the two science positions in the Department of State went to women, and the women felt unhappy because they went to the science because they’re both low status at the State Department. And I think that that is a clear indication that the women are not being given the choice appointments. And I think this is true, I think that Treasury was just too important from the point of view of the establishment, not only Carter but the male establishment, to give that away. I think it is an important factor that we have women and they can’t say there aren’t any, but we still don’t have the power that we ought to be having. And I think this is true right down the line. If look at the women who are very strong in the Carter campaign, Barbara Blum, for example, they didn’t get what they wanted, they got the deputies of what they wanted. The same is true of Mary King. Now, if they had been men I think they would’ve gotten what they wanted. Women still have to be twice as good. And we’ve got a lot of women who are twice as good but it’s still not equity.
PJ: You mentioned that Carter’s direct staff, his campaign staff and the Georgia people who are working with him are not as uniformly pro-Women’s Movement as perhaps Carter’s open stands have been for various reasons. Do you think now that there is this concerted opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment and that opposition seems at least to be able to either continue to gather strength or else to very cleverly display a certain level of strength that perhaps some of the President’s support for the Equal Rights Amendment will be undercut, given the attitudes of the staff surrounding him and this seeming indication of opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment?
IT: I don’t think so, I think the fact that Roselyn Carter came to the Convention and addressed it indicates her fundamental support. The daughter-in-law, Judy Carter, is clearly out to go and help support it. I think there is just no way that there won’t be open support for it, and I think one thing Carter and his staff have done that have really tried to continue their campaign promises. Where they get into trouble is where in the final analysis there’s a collision course between promises and there are some of those occasions. I don’t see that there is a campaign promise that would, if you will, cancel out ERA. It’s clear he’s not going to change his position on abortion despite the fact that all of his presidential appointees and many others did sign statements and write letters, he has not, he’s not going to change that position either I’m afraid. But I think for ERA I think there’s no way that he won’t support it, and I think increasingly the involvement and identification of his family here, family’s very close, this is something clearly Roselyn Carter is bringing support and I think therefore the President will continue, so. (Laughter),
And you know, in any couple most of the women in the Women’s Movement are married, and most of the men who support and work with us are there because they understand and share the frustrations of their wives or their daughters or perhaps their mothers in, as they have faced inequality and discrimination. And I am convinced that the President has lived with a strong woman and a strong mother long enough that he understands that and that he, it isn’t just because she supports it, it’s because she understands and feels that that the President will also support it.
PJ: You mentioned that most of the women in the Women’s Movement are married and that takes us to some questions I’d like to get at, it’s some of your background and how you got to the point you are in terms of being an active feminist involved in the Women’s Movement, and also very active in politics and successful now. What was the first activity that you can remember that you would’ve considered a feminist activity that you were involved in?
IT: Activity or thought?
PJ: Activity at this point. We’ll go back for thoughts earlier but I’m thinking of –
IT: Well, and why I was asking is I was married in India in 1952 and there happened to be a UNESCO Conference on women in Asia, which was in New Delhi and since I was there I went as an observer. There weren’t very many people around who cared, so I was able to go. I think at that point I still had the impression that American women were the most liberated. I had just driven from India out to Delhi and certainly felt quite liberated. At the Conference the women in Asia were getting up and saying how they were more free than the Western women, and the kinds of things they talked about were, among others, the fact that they could keep their own name and that they never took their husband’s name. Of course, in most of Asia it’s not traditional to have a family name, which I didn’t quite understand in those days, so of course if you’re name is Irene you keep it and that’s what you’re known by. But it did make an impact on me, I think I had always known that some women kept their own names and I think I had basically thought I was going to do it. Somehow or other it wasn’t as clear to me at that point until I realized that it was hard work in a Western context to keep your own name and I have ever since then. It is true that for many years women did not make that statement, but I did at that time and have since then, professionally at least, gone by my maiden name.
PJ: Did you need to explain that to your husband at that time and if so, how would you have? It seems to me that the name issue is one that has become prominent so much more recently that I wonder how –
IT: I don’t think there was ever any problem about keeping my maiden name professionally. I think what would’ve been difficult then, and I’m sure I didn’t even consider it, is that we would go to parties and use our separate names. My husband takes great delight in doing that now, especially, he’s a college professor and he introduces us to his students and he will say, “This is Irene Tinker.” And it’s clear we came together, I think our status goes up because we’re cohabitating instead of being married for over 25 years. (Laughter) But my husband knew I think what he was getting into. It isn’t everyone that drives out from London to New Delhi, and I don’t think you lightly marry such a person and assume they’ll suddenly become domesticated. (Laughter)
PJ: Okay. In terms of your professional life, the name is a clear indication that you intended to continue I think as a professional.
IT: Well, I was out there to do, to collect information and write my doctoral dissertation for the London School of Economics and I in fact continued to do that. I had exhausted my money after driving out and was looking for a job. It was very convenient to find a husband whose job – he was with the State Department – would pay our collective way back, and therefore I didn’t have to take a job and was able to finish my research, go back to London to get my degree. And then turnabout is fair play, my husband went back to graduate school and I supported him while he got his doctorate. So I think, in fact, we also had a joint board foundation fellowship to go later to Indonesia where he did his doctoral dissertation and I did post-doc. So we’ve I think always had a pretty equal background. I have often thought that we were able to make it so to speak because, although he is an American citizen he was born and brought up in Shanghai, and never has had some of the complexes that American boys are raised with. The sort of macho image. And I really think that that is an important psychological difference. I’m sure there are American men who’ve been able to live through it but I do think the fact that my husband didn’t ever have it imposed on him probably made the acceptance of my role much easier for him.
PJ: Cause I’m thinking of something from that (laughter) – okay, well your husband was brought up by American parents abroad. What do you think would be, you know, why do you think he did not have these kinds of macho characteristics?
IT: Well, I think the main reason is that Shanghai was fundamentally an English influence. It was, as you know there were concessions, there was a French concession and a British concession and so on, which were really extra-territorial colonies. But even today there is still a much greater social and economic differentiation in most of the developing countries so that Europeans or Americans who may not have a lot of money still live very upper class lives. They have servants and if you have servants and support then clearly women and men have a great deal of freedom. My mother-in-law who was herself a child of missionaries and born in Tokyo and educated in Germany clearly didn’t have any American sort of hang ups if you will, and her husband who was a, taught in a missionary university, St. John’s, also spent much of his life overseas. I think the result of this is that you have not the middle class pressures of conformity.
We found in the Women’s Movement that as long as you have a small percentage of women and men educated and the fact that the elite are educated, the women are much more free and that, as you know even in this Country, what is it, in 1910 there were a higher percentage of women PhD candidates in the, than there have been any time since then. And in the ‘30s there were more women in technical and professional jobs than any time since then. These are by percentage. As soon as you get a large influx of middle class you get away from the elitist assumptions that since all the elite are better than anyone else then there’s somehow more freedom for women as well as men. And you can see this in the developing countries as well, we’re in the sort of first nationalist part of a group that you have women in politics, you have women ministers, women in the UN, and the frightening thing is you are not getting that in this generation. For the same reasons that we went through that middle class pressure, women go to college only to find husbands and then women’s place is in the home. You can see this in India, Indonesia, and in Africa and other places.
This is, it was this concern, this in effect of – you could say it’s exporting our stereotypes. I really think it probably is a stage of development that as you get government out of the control of the elite to a wider group, that you begin to get more into the conservative middle class ethic and that this is, you see this being imposed around the world. And it was this realization in 1972 when I went back to Indonesia on a grant that got me into the second phase of my, if you will, my feminist involvement and what is now known as the sort of emphasis or the concern, the group that is concerned with the impact of development on women. It’s often called the women in the development or WID Movement. I think movement’s a bit of a strong word but I think we’ve had in development overall as much impact as probably the feminist movement has had here.
PJ: Well you were working with something called the Percy Amendment.
IT: Well, the Percy Amendment came out of this in ’72. I had been active since I guess ’66 in helping to form in a variety of professional groups the women’s caucuses and committees, committees usually being the committee of a professional association. The first one I was involved in was the American Association of Political Science. Yeah, APSA. And it was called the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession. This meant that the committee was funded by the Association. And the Committee was created because there was already a caucus screaming and saying that political science is unfair to women and why don’t you look at it? So the committee, and this is typical of all of professional associations, a committee was then set up with men and women to in fact look at what the charges were and what would happen. Again typically in each of these professions the first thing would be to do, if you will, a demographic analysis, how many women were really there, how many had graduated, how many had jobs, were they in the universities, where else were they, was it really true that there’d been discrimination? And of course increasing, being political scientists we had to take a sample survey, much of which has never been analyzed because they ask too many questions, of course. Bu the clarity was that women who were sort of A students could get right through graduate school. The C students had more trouble because there weren’t as many fellowships available for the women. But there wasn’t any overt discrimination, there was a lot of slight remarks and nasty comments, but basically if you were your own person you could get through graduate school. The real point of discrimination was first job.
PJ: What about the graduate schools that just didn’t let women in?
IT: Well, I was not aware there were that many. I mean, especially during the Vietnam War which was the period before that, most graduate schools were having trouble having men and therefore in order to fill up there was, you know, there were women. As I say the A women had no trouble, the really good women could get in anywhere. I’m sure that a lot of women who, if there were more equitable situations would’ve gone on, were discouraged by the slight remarks and where are you going and what do you think you’re doing with this? But the real point of discrimination for someone who wanted to go was that once, even if say you were the top student at Berkeley or California or wherever, or Chicago or what have you, when the jobs were being offered through the old-boys and everything, the really good jobs, somehow rather women were never put up for them with the assumption, well they’re going to get married, they’re going where they want to. And that was where the difference happens, because once the women would go to work, where? They might go to the women’s colleges which were probably the best places because they, in many respects, might also have a life teaching role. Most of them would be going into the state universities or the junior colleges and would be teaching 15 hours a week, where the men would go somewhere and teach six hours, maybe nine. And you know what happens is three years down the pike who’s published? Well obviously teaching courses, and I remember once teaching 17 hours, when do you have time to do anything? The result of this was what became a very typical pattern that once you didn’t publish then you obviously, women weren’t as smart, they weren’t as ambitious. Consequently you got a filtering out so by the time you finished, especially in a profession like political science where maybe only 8% of the graduates were women anyhow, you had almost no women at the top.
The interesting thing we also found is that women tended to flow into the somewhat more open areas. For example, the older women on this committee who would by now have retired were all American Political Science scholars and all (break in recording at 31:21) – the women say in the ‘30s then went into American History, what we found with those of us who came out after World War II with PhDs, a lot of us went into comparative government because that was a kind of more open field. And by that time many of the women’s schools were now hiring men, the men’s schools of course weren’t hiring women, so that in something like American History there were no jobs, American Political Science. But, so many of us went into comparative government as I did, comparative development. I started out specializing in India. But it was very clear to me that there weren’t many jobs in India to teach about South Asia, and there were a lot of men around. It was very obvious I wasn’t going to get one, so that’s why I went first of all to Indonesia and Africa so that I became a comparative development person, hopefully giving me a wider possibility for jobs.
Although certainly when I was working in the University of California when my husband was doing his doctorate there were two women who’d been brought in to teach, exceptionally brilliant women, Hannah Arendt and Lois Koch. And they had been brought in when the head of the department was on sabbatical, and when he came back it took him two years to get rid of both of them by making their lives miserable.
PJ: So they just left, they were never fired.
IT: Hannah Arendt went back to Chicago, and Lois Koch moved over into History, and stayed there for a while. Although she also left. The man was the head of the department was a kind of southern gentleman who had to stand up when you walked in the room. It was so clear he could not fathom the idea of a professional woman. It was very obvious how deep the discrimination was against women in Political Science at that time, and so I felt that the broader my own background, the safer I might be in terms of –
PJ: Yeah. Well, at that point you were doing post-graduate? I mean, I know you were working to put your husband through, but you were –
IT: Actually I taught a course or two, I taught in the extension. You know, in the State of California, which again is a typical marginal existence. My job was in the modern India project, which in fact I was running, and I taught some of the courses as a reader as they say, and a couple of times the professor just simply let me teach the course. I was never listed by name because that wasn’t the way it was. I got experience which I value, but it was so…(recording cuts out at 35:12).
I had decided at some early age, I guess maybe 5 or 6 or something that I was going to go around the world on a cargo boat. And I really, nobody, I mean, people would giggle and I thought, I didn’t know exactly why and I just assumed that they thought it was silly, period. It took me a long time to understand that they thought it was silly for a girl. It never was obvious to me at that point, which I think is interesting. And it was only much later because frankly sex was not a strong topic in a relatively Victorian family household, and I really didn’t understand the sexual implications of what I was saying for many, many years. And I think the, that that desire stayed with me and when I, as you know, when I finished college I went off to England to graduate school and then drove to India, this was my way of thinking, well less a cargo boat. And drove back, spent six months driving back through Africa and have since been around the world any number of times. I am a Pisces, I suppose you’re supposed to travel and I don’t know, maybe it’s all tied in but I’m sure that early desire to go around the world was something that stayed with me. And I think it is indicative that at that point I really didn’t think about male and female differences.
PJ: Your desire to travel, come from reading?
IT: I have no idea where it came from, some romantic notion no doubt that somebody went around the world on a cargo boat and why didn’t I, you know, it obviously attracted me as one of the exciting things. I was born and brought up at that point in Wisconsin, I think I’d been as far away as Iowa and Indiana. Nobody in our family had been from overseas, although my grandfather was, Castro, was Spanish and apparently had immigrated. All the others had, you know, sort of been around a long time and they’d lost track of when they’d all arrived in the Midwest, early, lower middle-class farmer kind of background. And I don’t know. I also don’t know what it was that made me, even at that age, decide that I wanted to be a politician, which I haven’t really quite made yet. Except that I remember seeing an NRA symbol on the window. My family was very republican and that was a symbol of the enemy from their point of view and the federal, you know, FDR was the president. And I said, “Gee, isn’t that interesting?” And they said, I said something, I guess I knew his name Roosevelt, how did Roosevelt get there? He went to Harvard and was a lawyer. And at that point I decided I was going to Harvard and be a lawyer. And it’s interesting although I’m not sure that if you’d asked me that ever year after that, that I would’ve known that’s what I said but I did end up going to Harvard but I had, by that time, been told, which I think is one of these dumb fallacies again, that if I went through law school I’d have to read so hard my eyes would fail me and at that point my glasses were getting heavier and heavier. And so some point along the line I discarded the idea of being the lawyer, but I did go to Harvard and I did still want to be a politician and I did, you know, at one point in my life run for state legislature and for constitutional convention and came to the conclusion that where I was running they weren’t ready for me. I kept comparing Montgomery County with underdeveloped countries and that was not very good.
PJ: That’s one the comparisons don’t help a lot.
IT: It didn’t help. But it’s true, you know, I talked about the sort of urban elite being somewhat more enlightened and, but that the politics were controlled by the landlords and the real estate interests and it’s true. I mean, it’s true in India and it’s true in Montgomery County. But I guess it doesn’t always pay to translate ones intellectual understanding to the political arena, maybe that’s one reason that this is as close to an elective office as I’ll get, at least it is a political appointment. (Laughter) But you know, so I’m convinced that I was raised on a very, I mean, just to know that I was as good as the next person.
I think another thing happened, my mother died as a result of a menopause birth when I was 12, and for, I guess for whatever reason I was the one who, although the youngest one, my brother was at college, my sister was studying very hard in her last years of high school, and I basically took over the household. And my father sort of, who had never been a very visible, I mean, he worked hard and did his work but he wasn’t around a lot, and as far as I’m concerned, at least as far as I’m consciously concerned, my mother ran the house. That he said, “If you don’t know how to behave now, you never will.” And I was never given any restrictions on anything like hours or anything at a time when most parents would because my father had no idea what hours were. And I found I was much more strict with myself. I did used to say, “My father said . . .” but of course I was the one who decided because I, you know, there was no one to fight against. And I think that was probably very important because it meant not only very – I never really had an adolescence, I sort of grew up immediately, but it also meant that I wasn’t rebelling against anyone because there was nothing to rebel against. And so I ran the household for a while and then my father married again and needless to say there was a certain turf problem, the solution to which my step mother threw me out of the house. (Laughter) Which also added to my independence. So that, you know, I remember that it was the day I graduated from high school, she said, you know, basically I get three days to leave. And I didn’t know what I was going to do, I had a job lined up locally. The same job I’d had the summer before as a dishwasher in a laboratory because it was really a fascinating kind of thing, it was sort of lab assistant, which college students except during the war used to fight to have. Of course at that time the college students were all going to school or in the army. And it was a fascinating job from a scientific point of view. And I was very upset in the fact that I was told so late that I couldn’t continue the job.
I went off to New York, which was something of a frightening experience I guess as a college student, and looked to see what jobs were available for someone. Here I was all full of, you know, having graduated as valedictorian and all that jazz, and you know, what could you do? There really were three jobs, one was a sales person in Macy’s and one was a telephone operator, they were going to train me and make me a supervisor after six months, six weeks I guess, and the other was a waitress. And I didn’t want to, I was guaranteed to go to college, my father was not, you know, wasn’t going to withdraw that, it was just I wanted around. And I couldn’t tell the telephone people that I was going to leave, and I’d already been a sales girl in a men’s store for a while and I wasn’t intrigued with that. And I found I could make a lot more money as a waitress so that was from the middle class viewpoint something of a psychological kind of come down, that is to say it wasn’t really a white collar job. And I think that was also a very useful experience from my point of view to get me over that particular hang up. Part of the, it was a Stouffer’s and part of it was reserved and interestingly enough at lunchtime for businessmen because they had to get in and out first and theoretically all the other people eating were ladies with lots of time to shop. I assume that doesn’t work anymore. But the men were always very good tippers and they found it quite incredible that I was going to Radcliffe in the fall. And it didn’t bother me, in fact it amused me. And they always left me extra big tips, they figured if I was going there I’d need them. (Laughter)
So it, I guess I never, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t do what I wanted. I remember even my freshman year in Radcliffe, somebody down at one of the radio stations interviewing a bunch of us trying to find out whether indeed you could get married and have a career. And I remember arguing that it was quite possible, anything was possible. And one of the women who is now also a political appointee in the government, Alice Gilbert who was the granddaughter of Brandeis and whose mother had been a professional was not at all sure that you could combine the two, although she’s managed to do it. And that was a big deal, it was alright to be a professional but clearly you couldn’t marry. And I, again I never questioned the fact that it was all possible. Maybe it’s the old Susan B. Anthony, “Nothing is impossible . . .” it didn’t occur to me that there were any reasons why not. So I assume that somehow I was just simply not only given the firm belief but put in such situations where in fact I had been able to respond and succeed, so that I had I think great assumptions in myself as many young people do, much greater perhaps than now. (Laughter)
PJ: Okay. What about your daughters? I’m trying to –
IT: Oh, I would like to think that they’re exactly the same.
PJ: But do you think so watching them? I mean, I’m assuming that the home environment’s the same and that they’ve picked that up at home. I’m wondering if the external environment, which obviously in some ways has opened up tremendously for them so there’s overt statements to the women can do this and women can do that that that didn’t used to exist. But what about the peer group pressure?
IT: Well, I’ve talked to them. My middle daughter is now a freshman at Harvard. Not Radcliffe these days, it’s Harvard. And she’s in many ways the most sensitive child. I have an older son who’s a junior in college, and a daughter who’s a junior in high school. And the middle daughter has on occasion said that when she was younger it was something of an embarrassment to have a working mother. I think now she’s just very, very pleased about it. She came, both of the daughters came when ERA was first on the Hill and we all paraded around the Capitol steps and we have pictures of ourselves down there. And then we all paraded in most of those peace parades so they, I think they understand and have been geared into this. My son is a very strong feminist, he keeps running into these girls he can’t stand because he says they don’t understand about women. And, but it’s my youngest daughter who is clearly the most defiant; that is to say she’s a real woman’s liber type, as opposed to simply being very strong about it. And, you know, absolutely –
PJ: So the reactions going to the left of where you are and not to the right of where you are, if you’ll take the –
IT: I think it’s hard to be to the left of where I am. Where else am I to go? It’s almost an insult.
IT: No, what I mean is that she almost gets into fights about it, you know, ‘my mother is a professional, by God, why isn’t yours’, you know, an aggressive kind of stance and that sort of thing. Whereas my middle daughter is quite firm about it but she isn’t one to be aggressive about it I suppose is the difference. And, you know, my younger daughter I will take back all of these posters and she will have them all in her room she will be so pleased that she can say her mother was at IWY. And you know, be I think very – she’s a very determined young woman and I suspect if anybody gets in her way she’ll steamroll them right through and then yell, “Right on” as she does it type of thing. And that’s okay. But they, in fact I feel that the generation in-between, that is to say the young one and growing up now have enough of an easier sort of role than we do cause most of them are much less strong feminists.
PJ: Yes, I do too, that’s what I was getting at.
IT: But I think that my daughters and the daughters of those of us that, where the daughters have observed what their mother is doing, I think there we’ll have a resurgence again. And I just hope that there are enough young women coming up fast enough and we don’t die off in the meantime.
PJ: Better keep having babies. (Laughter)
IT: Sorry about that. Having in population studies I don’t think anyone should have more than two. I’m already one over my quota.
Not only have I intermittently gone overseas and stayed at home and have tried to draw parallels between these two experiences for the various things I’ve been interested in, but I’ve also felt more and more how little we know about much of, especially of the problems of women. When we were first testifying on the Hill and the Federation you will recall how difficult it was to find materials and how questionable the sources were that we were using for statistics. And therefore there was a very strong felt need for some people to begin to do some research. And we were I think using statistics to prove political points but as an academic I felt we needed to have sound statistics or someone one day was going to call us on them and then we might destroy some of the points we were trying to prove. I was instrumental in working with Barbara Newell, at that time newly appointed president of Wellesley to set up the Wellesley Center for Research on Women and Higher Education and the Professions, which was jointly sponsored at that point by the Federation of Organizations for Professional Women and Wellesley College. By the time we got the thing underway we were in some ways delighted to find that there were a variety of other research groups having been formed, some more oriented to immediate policy issues so that the Wellesley Center has now increasingly become the kind of premiere academic center for this effort. I think from the Federation’s viewpoint we thought of it more in policy terms but I think in the overall spectrum today it’s extremely useful to have a serious long-term academic institution that is in fact building up a lot of data on what’s really happening to women in the United States.
PJ: If I recall when that center was set up Barbara Newell said that one reason she was interested in it, because she wanted to be basically plugged in, get the heels in for the long haul because she saw a period of hype for the Women’s Movement and then another lax period, and then a need for another resurgence, and she wanted to try to avoid that by having these institutionalized means to move ahead.
IT: Absolutely. One of the reasons we at one time moved the Federation up to Wellesley was for the same reason that we felt that that would maintain it, because Wellesley College was going to continue. I think that our strength, however, is as a network and Wellesley is a bit out of it so that we have brought the Federation back to Washington, and I think it has grown there with the more recent presidents, Janet Brown and Julia Leer in particular, so that I think our strength is in widening networks rather than in staying up and sort of hibernating, if you will, up in Wellesley. Also because Wellesley was a bit far away it was clear that it was going to be difficult to do international work there. And furthermore, with the increasing interest in the problem of development of women it was obvious that we needed to collect a lot more information on women in development. We needed also to lobby the international aid establishment and you cannot do those things from Wellesley. Furthermore, most of us were in Washington.
So not only have we set up pressure groups but I’ve also set up an international center for research on women, which is meant to be part of a network of centers in different regions, and perhaps eventually even in different countries around the world, that will coordinate the collection of data on relatively short-term research projects because we don’t have time to set up long-term projects. And furthermore, if the state of social science is such that even when you do long-term research you don’t know what you’re doing overseas. So it doesn’t, you know, we’re just not there even if you wanted to be in long-term studies, so that what’s important is to get information sufficiently sound to immediately plug into and utilize for policy implications. And this is a need that’s continuing, there are, I think this one is still quite unique in its framework and it is clearly a growing field. So I think my contribution, both in terms of active policy and in terms of – both in terms of active policy and in terms of research are again a kind of reflection of my personal dual interests and I would like to think perhaps my own ability to translate policy into academic situations is again probably something that my own background has allowed me to do rather more uniquely than some other people.
PJ: Thank you very much. Irene Tinker. (Break in recording at 53:53) Continuation with Irene Tinker.
IT: As we were finishing our pleasant and long discussion I was just handed by one of the women active today in the Federation of Organizations for Professional Women, an announcement that that organization has established a task force on the Equal Rights Amendment. And it reads, “In conjunction with the National Women’s Conference in Houston, the Federation of Organizations for Professional Women has established this task force to consider the implementation of the ERA Resolution which was passed at the last Federation meeting and instructs the Federation to support ERA. The task force will provide a further boost to the economic boycott of unratified states that’s being coordinated by the National Organization of Professional Women. To date over 50 national organizations have taken this step of arguing that their own parent organization should not meet in cities in those states that have not ratified. And since these national organizations are extremely large it has clearly had an impact. The distribution of information on candidates stands and unratified states will begin with the spring primary contest and the strategy which has been used by members of many of our affiliates were recently successful in the ERA campaign in Virginia which was the only unratified state to elect legislators in 1977. The task force will be composed of representatives of a wide array of scientific, professional, technical and academic and business groups.” So again you can see that the Federation is playing a very strong role among the organized professional caucuses and committees. (Break in recording at 56:00)
IT: – maintaining contact between women in the professions it’s dedicated to. The equality and education and in the professions, and our definition of professions is anybody who works or needs any training at all. A long-time debate within the group has been how wide should the cut be, to what extent can you under such a Federation include trade union women and so on. It’s been our assumption that anybody could join but in effect it has maintained itself primarily as a more educated professions kind of group. My own feeling very strongly was that the group that came together didn’t really know enough to say we spoke for the poor working woman or the trade union woman, and that it was, it would’ve been egotistical of us to so claim. I think it’s very important that such groups be expanded but I don’t think that it makes much sense to claim that you represent someone that you can’t.
We, I think, represent one of the four major segments of the women’s movement. There is the church women’s groups that continue primarily to represent women who don’t work, but who do by their own free time they’re great service but are generally speaking very different type of woman. We have the trade union women who have recently tried to get stronger clout within their own movement through CLUW, but who continue to be very weak within their own professions, much weaker I think than we are within ours. And the other group which is I think now is the greatest representative group of which tries to, first of all it does try to speak for all women and by doing so has had a lot of trouble in holding its own constituency together, which I think comes back to why I felt we had to keep our focus where we were. And who at least in Washington and many other towns is increasingly dominated and responds to the needs of suburban housewives, who really feel continually the need of consciousness raising and of community. It’s my own feeling that most women who are professional, especially those of us who have survived the great pressures to go back and stay at home, had to have gotten themselves together about what their goals were, and therefore didn’t need the consciousness raising nearly as much. We never gave up so much and therefore we didn’t have to get ourselves back together. You didn’t marry a man who didn’t accept it, or you didn’t stay married, so that the kind of Betty Friedan syndrome never really I think applied to a lot of the women in professions, which therefore looks less radical from the outside simply because we haven’t had to move so far.
I think many of us therefore are really feeling much happier at least with the government as we’ve now gotten positions in the government, but it’s still very clear that we have an awful long way to go. And it is only I think through unity and through working very closely with the other groups that we can push. I think the phase of legislative change is gone. There was a period where we could use legislation or executive orders, now we have to use our own power to push. I think in other words what we have done is made fantastic strides in policy.
IT: It’s been less than a decade and now at least it’s no longer acceptable for anyone to say they’re against women or to say they’re against affirmative action or to say that they don’t want to look at the impact and development of women. To see that that happens is something else and I think the Women’s Movement has got to go from a phase of policy where we are, we’ve got to get ERA passed so policy is then made.
A much more difficult that faces us is how we get power. And I think that is really where we are. And we are, it’s unclear how to use it. But ten years ago I wouldn’t have believed that we would’ve gotten this far in policy, and I’m absolutely optimistic with all of the talented women and the ideas that are floating around. It’s very clear to me that we’re going to find those implements and those instruments that are going to allow us power. I think the new, if you will the old girls network is part of our power, we’ve got it pretty well in place in Washington. We need to strengthen that, we need to replicate that in the state capitols, we need more women in elective office. But we need to learn how to use our 51.3% power for all women in their various choices. Now I think the early Women’s Movement was as typical of a pendulum, sometimes forgot that we ought to respond to a series of choices, not just to the right to be an individual.
I think typically the United States has celebrated the rights of the individual to the exclusion of reminding them they have responsibilities. This is men, this is women. It’s a whole – doing your own thing is a very selfish concept and I think that it didn’t really last too long. The flower children wanted communes, they didn’t want it by themselves. My very strongly held conviction is that we need as a country to reaffirm that you have rights and responsibilities, that you take so much that you must give. I personally favor a required national service for women and men because there are so many things in a society that people will not do for pay that you can only organize and do because it is a responsibility. It’s, whether it’s cleaning up the slums or responding to drug users or to battered housewives, society in its bureaucratic sense cannot respond to those. We don’t have the money, the time. We don’t have the mechanisms. A single solution worker cannot every day respond to 50 battered housewives and emotionally live through it. So you have to create barriers. But an individual can respond to one or two as a volunteer.
And this leads me to where I am now and one of the reasons I’m so excited about my present job is that it’s not only one of the few jobs in the whole government where I can put together national and international concerns, but it’s a place that one can begin to celebrate the humanizing of modern government, the re-emphasis upon the individual responsibility to contribute back to the society in some way, and that many people do it already but because of the tremendous mobility in the present society, there are lots of people who don’t know how to contribute. And it isn’t just that it’s good for the individual merits or for something up in Heaven or what have you, but it’s also because we live in a society and most of us realize that to live alone is a very frightening thing. And you want to participate, you want to belong. And that the opportunity to be together in a neighborhood or a group or a family or a society is important, it makes you have a place, it makes you have reason to live. And I think that we are clearly turning around and it’s going to be a problematic thing to define where you should volunteer, where you should give freely, and where you should be paid.
IT: The Women’s Movement typically went overboard in condemning volunteerism for lots of good reasons, because it was combined with the labor problems. But we’re coming around now to realize that this is an important thing. We’re all volunteers in the Women’s Movement. But it’s more than that, it’s some of these almost insoluble problems of modern society in dealing with people who cannot make it, who are not part of the system, that we need a touch of humanness, something between the faceless bureaucracy and the lonely individual. And I’m really excited about some of the possibilities that we have to fill in, to respond to women, to women, battered housewife. The bill that Barbara Mikulski has put in is an example of this and I think we can and ought to be able to support the women’s groups that already responded to this. But not to crush them, not to make them governmental, not to give ‘em so much money that it isn’t a voluntary activity anymore, because I think the very freedom of the giving is important.
This is, I think, overseas we are in action trying to respond to the women in development issue and we are also responding to what I think is another important issue and that is that we don’t just respond to women in the professional jobs, we are trying to develop the idea of supporting a marriage of a couple when they go overseas. We’re looking into the issue of spouses. Whether it’s the man or the woman that maybe primarily interested in one of our jobs, are there other ways that we can help them, or can we even have a joint directorship for the Peace Corps? It will be difficult, I’m not sure you can even do that because somebody’s got to, there’s got to be a bottom line. But we’re looking at this issue, we’re looking at it throughout the aid establishment. I think we’re taking the lead in this. And so I think ACTION is doing a variety of things across the board.
I’d like to go back just a bit to the women in development issue. After I had been involved in the caucuses and committees I had an opportunity, I had another fellowship to go overseas, as you can see in my professional life have sort of gone back and forth between domestic and foreign concerns, but I think they have all basically evolved around what happens to individuals and groups with modernization if you will, and the diverse needs of people, of education systems, of what happens with urbanization, what happens in rural areas. And in that sense I think I keep tying myself back together. In any case I went out to Indonesia in the summer of ’72, and was asked by USIA to give some lectures at that time on the American Women’s Movement. And because I had for years lectured at the, in the United States in what we call Meridian House, which is a place that the foreigners come in to learn about the United States, I understood that unless you could make comparisons with overseas there’s almost no way that people understand. In other words at Meridian House we didn’t have American society experts talking to the foreigners because they wouldn’t be able to explain it, so almost everybody who talked about America were people who had studied overseas. So when I went to Indonesia I obviously said, well look I’m going to, got to draw comparisons, and it occurred to me how little I knew about women in Indonesia. Now I had spent already over two years there before, I had two fellowship periods, one of two years and one of one year in India. I was well brainwashed. I knew women had no political power so why should I bother to look at women? And so only this last time, my fourth field experience did I really look at women beyond pleasant social contacts. I think I’m as guilty as anyone else.
And when I did this I very quickly realized what was happening, that most of the professional women of whom there were many were there because they’d been encouraged by husbands or brothers or fathers, that most of them had no necessary commitment to being a career person. They never had any trouble being it because they were, as I said, of the elite group. That the men in the nationalist movement could not say that they the Indonesians or the Indians or what have you were equal with the Colonialists and say, but our women aren’t. And I think at that point they really felt the women were equal and pushed them to be so. Because you had to illustrate it. And so you found the woman doctor, the professor and so on, some of them almost saying, well I wouldn’t really mind staying home, wouldn’t it be nice? And suddenly I began to look at the next generation and what was happening, and you could see that the women weren’t getting the jobs, and I thought, my goodness, are we really going to recreate our 1940’s and ‘50s in the states overseas? Are the middle class men as they have trouble getting jobs shove the women out? And I’m afraid that’s exactly what’s happening. Furthermore, those elite women of the older generation led a colonial life with servants. And there aren’t so many servants anymore. So who stays home and takes care of the kids? So we have this real problem overseas of replicating this.
Now I talked about this in Indonesia and I talked with the women there and most of them didn’t agree with me. And I said, “Look!” But they hadn’t looked either. And then I said, well if this is true about these women I’m talking to, the professional women, what do I know about the women in the country? Now I had studied a local government when I was there in ’57, ’58, and I’d interviewed women and men who were in the local legislatures and I talked about political problems and the Islamic versus the communists and all of that. But I’d never differentiated or looked at women as opposed to men. So I looked up what there was, and I must say there was very little, on women in Indonesia. And I began to talk with the elite women about what they knew about the village women. And it became increasingly clear that one fact that I knew and had never thought about is the divorce rate in the villages when I studied there in ’58, registered divorce rate was about 65%. Now it’s an Islamic country and what was happening was young girls were literally sold for bride price to some old man for three weeks dalliance, and then after that they were divorced. And then they were women and could go off and work. I knew at that time that the village women often went to the cities and there were two jobs open and it didn’t matter which one they took as long as they made some money. And if they could, go home and buy a piece of land. And those two jobs were housemaids, servants in the household babus [sic] as they were called, servants, and prostitutes. Didn’t seem to matter which you did. Because with the Islamic turnover it’s a little hard to tell the difference anyhow. But I knew that it just had never really put together with anything else in my mind. I’d been interested in this problem but, you know, where did it take me? One then began to look for a few anthropological studies. Hildred Geertz had written something on women in Java which is literally about the only book focusing on it, in which she points out that the Javanese women are self-sufficient and can live alone much better than the men. So the men keep remarrying and of course that means they remarry younger and younger, but the women don’t. So that you have in Java continual fact of women headed households.
Well, I came back to the United States and as I was begetting drawn into the Federation I formed a woman’s caucus in the Society for International Development and said, look, this is what I found, I’ve never thought about it, what do you know about the countries where you’ve been? And increasingly we found women anthropologists or developers who began to put pieces together themselves as well. And it’s just like, you know, like taking shutters off, you never thought about it before. And once you thought about it, it was so obvious! I mean, that’s what’s so incredible, I mean, I’d never thought about it before. And yet when you look at it you begin to see that all the development aid has made an assumption based upon a stereotype or a caricature of American society; that only men work, only men between 18 and 55 work, that everybody’s married, that the men support the wives and the wives live at home and twiddle their thumbs. Now we know that isn’t true in this country and yet it’s been that caricature that has been the basis for aid, so that the aid goes out and says, gee these poor farmers, let’s give them some cash crops. So they introduce peanuts or coffee, and they think men are the farmers so the cash crops will be grown by men. And they do this in societies where the women are the entire farmers. I mean, it was just absolutely incredible! And nobody stopped to think. Or they go into marketplaces in West Africa where the women control the markets, or in South Asia or in Nicaragua or in Central America, and they think – entrepreneurs, only men are entrepreneurs, let’s start some modern supermarkets and let’s bring the men in. And then they complain because the men don’t know how to run them, and so in Indonesia you have the Chinese men brought in to run them. You have in parts of many parts of the world, Indians are brought in because the locals aren’t supposed to be bright as far as entrepreneurship. And they completely forget that their women know all these things! It’s just incredible!
And in handicrafts which is been the other major thing, as soon as there’s money, somehow or other it’s the men who control. And then you begin to bureaucratize a lot of these things, and who are the illiterates in all of this society? So women in West Africa are superb marketers, but most of them have never learned to read and write, they do it all in their heads or something. So what do you do? You require a form to have a stall, you create a whole generation of pimps of the market, if you will. The people who fill in the forms and get 10% of the losses. And you begin to see this and you, it’s just so obvious. So we began to talk about it and say, well International Women’s Year’s coming up. And what we need to do is we need to talk about development and make people understand what’s happening! Because the status of women’s commission in the UN had been around for 25 years and they’ve focused on the legal rights. But they didn’t care whether they were implemented or not! And peace was another one of the elements of International Women’s Year and peace has been so much of a political football that it’s very hard to know what to do with it.
PJ: It’s hard to implement, from our angle.
IT: You know, it was a captive for a while of the communists, it was a captive in pro-con Vietnam, it is so overloaded it’s very hard to do something new. But development, which was the third concept for International Women’s Year was wide open and no one was thinking about it, they were thinking in this sort of piddling kind of trickledown theory.
So you know, in a way once one started saying as I did in many meeting, “Look at this”, it becomes so obvious. So it isn’t as if I were, you know, had a sight on truth, I had a sight on the right questions to ask. I asked this at a State Department meeting because we were the only group that had even thought about it, and thought about what we were going to do for International Women’s Year. And several people heard this testimony, 10 minute dissertation if you will, because as I say, once you ask the question anybody who knows anything about development’s off on their own. I mean, it isn’t as if it’s a, you have to study it and learn it, it’s really an understanding.
PJ: Unlike the political science, you didn’t have to commission a study to find out what you already knew.
IT: That’s right! I mean, it really was putting pieces of a puzzle together that you’d never seen it in that light before. So I was asked – well, there were several people that were there who had contacts on the Hill and said, “Look, we’ve been having hearings on human rights and no one’s really brought this issue up. So we’re going to have a hearing and find out what’s going on as far as US government is concerned.” And I was the only non-governmental person asked to testify and here again it was such a clear illustration of the problem. Somebody at the Department of Labor wrote a speech which was read by the then head of the Women’s Bureau who had no reason to know anything about Africa. But she read the speech in which there was a line basically, isn’t it too bad women haven’t been included in development, and we really need to get them to work because only 5% of the women in Africa work. And I came on right afterwards and I had to say, “Mr. Chairman,” it was Don Frasier, you’ve really got to, I mean, this is an illustration of the problem. “Those statistics are probably correct, 5% of the women in Africa probably do work in modern industry.” But to say that women in Africa don’t work is to be, I mean, that’s an idiotic statement, because the women in Africa we now know, we have some statistics, but we didn’t then, work like 80 hours a week in many cases. They are the predominant supporters of the family, the predominant growers of food. The fact of the matter is the Department of Labor doesn’t collect statistics on farm labor. So what you’ve got are statistics being collected for a modern sector with a certain kind of development in mind that are then used for development planners, and they don’t reflect reality at all. So then the plans are one step further removed. And the funny part about it is the indigenous planners have the same blind spots as the foreigners because they’re also well trained by us in California and in Chicago, but they don’t understand! Just absolutely incredible!
But again, all I needed to say then, and anybody who thinks and knows something about overseas know immediately I’m right. And so it was so clear that this belief, this idea, this understanding needed to be put into the Foreign Assistance Act. And so some of the women with power went to the Senate which was then having hearings on the Foreign Assistance Act of ’73, and said, “Look, we’ve got to get this information in.” And some of the people immediately on the staff said, “Oh my God, of course.” It was really like a light dawning. So they wrote in some explanations and then they thought about it and said, “That’s not strong enough, we need an amendment.” So they wrote an amendment and then they said, “Now who ought to introduce it?” And it was a Republican administration and Percy was sympathetic, he hadn’t thought about it, but he agreed to introduce it.
Attached to the same bill was the Helms Amendment to say that no foreign aid could be used for any kind of family practices. And most of the radical or more advanced, if you will, women’s groups were already in there lobbying against the Helms Amendment. So the conference committee came together trying to solve the differences between the House and Senate on the Helms Amendment, the women in development or the Percy Amendment had only been introduced in the Senate, so there wasn’t a House Bill. So the House people looked at it and they laughed and they said, “Percy must be running for President.” And they dropped it. The people who’d introduced the Bill called me and many other women and said, “Get on the phone. Tell them why it’s important.” The radical women couldn’t do it, so the people that had to be reached were the YWCA and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and so on. Which in many ways was even better in some respects because Percy and the House members heard mainstream women in the United States calling them, and academic women like myself and others calling. And putting a point that is so clear, I mean, it isn’t really controversial like abortion, it’s just damned obvious once you think about it. The Bill got in, Percy understood the power of the women and he has been a superb supporter ever since. That particular amendment has been expanded such – once, I guess twice by Percy and then once by Cardiss Collins and the House, such that it now includes not only all American aid that we control, but theoretically applies to all of the international institutions that we put money into like the World Bank and UN and so on.
And once the Percy Amendment was in women in the UN establishment immediately began to pass resolutions cause they don’t pass bills, and such that within a year almost every major development organization, UNESCO, UNDP, even FAO, had a resolution passed saying all programs are to look to see what the hell they’re doing to women. And the fact you had to pass them is an indication first that everyone understood that they had been focused on men. Now one should also I think go a step further and say that when you’re really stopping to think about it, the focus on men between 18 and 55 has also exacerbated the youth problem and will shortly, because life expectancy is growing, exacerbate the aging problem. That we in fact are exporting some of the worst things that we do in this country; juvenile delinquency, putting our elderly off in the corner, and totally discarding or not recognizing the contribution that women do. And so I think that once we’ve gotten the WID part through we ought to certainly enlarge and focus upon the importance of our concern for youth and for elderly as well. But it’s still for a while quite important that we maintain an advocacy role for women because frankly that’s half of the population. (Laughter)
PJ: Right. And as you’ve said you’ve got the policy set and now you’ve got the implementation to do and that’s the hard sell.
IT: Right. It’s very important though on the international side to separate the concept which is clear about what development has done to women, from what is also part of the different, and that is the need for more women in international aid and foreign policy. And that the confusion of affirmative action, which is an American women’s concern, at least within that context, and the concept of development, that if you confuse them it makes it very easy for opponents of women to say, “Stop exporting Women’s Lib.” And what I say is, I agree, that’s not what we’re doing. What we’re saying is stop exporting male chauvinists. But it’s a, people do confuse it and it’s a very important factor, and if you want any good quotation that should be one. I do (laughter). But you’re not done yet. It’s the end of my speech. Now I’ve got to stop talking.
PJ: No. Okay I want to go back to the basic question of, how do you think you got to where you are? Why? Why did you end up – I mean, intelligence will assume it’s genetic, but why strong?
IT: You mean why did I always know I was equal? Even though I wasn’t to a parent from this society’s point of view?
IT: I’ve pondered that myself. One has to somehow go back to, if not Freud, early influence. And I have always assumed it was the influence of my mother, she was, as my father was, both of them were educated in college, the first ones in their families to go to college. Both were in science. She was able to teach two years in high school, and the minute she got pregnant had to resign. She was an activist who within her own circle was always not only doing good things, but doing radical sort of things for the women’s groups that she was organizing. I mean, they would not be radical by any other sense, but clearly a kind of a small town women’s leader. And I just assumed that she was probably, without probably even knowing it herself, raging against her own position. She raised, there were three of us who grew up together, an older brother, a sister older than myself, and my, we were five years totally apart. And it is my own personal opinion that we were all raised very much the same such that the two girls turned out to be somewhat masculine if you will, and the boy turned out to be somewhat feminine. I mean, I think that – I don’t remember if we ever had dolls we ever played with them, only animals would do. And I remember very strongly one of the most important things was the day that my sister and I got white duck pants and navy hats to wear, and those were the days when girls weren’t wearing many pants around. We climbed trees, we did everything the same. And I guess I never really though there –
End of Interview