Interviewee: Bessie Moody
Interviewer: Louise Pettus
Date: June 10-11, 1977
Bessie Moody, from Rock Hill, South Carolina, attended the conference to lead a workshop on sex biases in education. Moody strongly believed in eliminating biases in education and women could pursue careers in engineering, science, and mathematics. Interview includes discussion of her workshop and her message, her family’s emphasis on math and science, how Moody became aware of women’s issues through the experience of her mother, and how her mother encouraged education.
Louise Pettus: What is your name and where are you from?
Bessie Moody: I’m Bessie Moody, and I’m from Rock Hill, South Carolina.
LP: And why are you here at the conference?
BM: I’m here to lead a workshop on sex biases in education. I’m very interested in opportunities for women in education.
LP: Without giving away your entire workshop, just generally what is the theme behind? What is your message?
BM: Well, the message is that women should have the same opportunities to develop themselves as their male counterpart, and sex biases, the barriers such as counseling, stereotypes in counseling and textbooks should be done away with. Students should have opportunities to enter in any courses, particularly women should be encouraged to take more math in high school so that they’ll be eligible to enter occupations or careers such as engineering and science and mathematics.
LP: Do you feel like you were ever discouraged from taking such courses because you were a woman, or a girl?
BM: No, not really, but I was not encouraged either.
LP: Do you have children?
LP: Do you encourage your girls to take such courses?
BM: Yes, I do. I have two girls ages seven and six, and we place a heavy emphasis on learning the math facts and skills.
LP: What in your lifetime made you conscious of the role of women? Some people say they’ve had their consciousness raised. Are you one of those people or not?
BM: Well, I suppose in a sense I’ve always been conscious of women’s roles and the contributions that they can make to education, merely because of the fact that my mother is a teacher and she had a lot of hardships, and I felt that she was a very good example for me because she overcame those hardships. She was a teacher in South Carolina schools for forty years. Twenty of those years she taught at a one-teacher school in Chester County, and in that community she taught practically all of the children and the children’s parents. And those children still come by to visit and whatnot and give her credit for being a great inspiration in their lives.
And I think she was a great inspiration in my life because she would always say learn more than what is offered in school, because just the things that are offered in the classroom, it’s not everything that you need to know. You will come in contact with other people who will have much more knowledge than you will, so don’t be satisfied with just being tops in your particular class. And she has encouraged us to continue our education.
When I got my master’s degree from when I went to college I had two babies in diapers, and without her help I would not have been able to do this, because she came to help me by helping to take care of my children.
LP: You’re describing your mother as a model for you. Do you feel like there are people at this convention who are models?
BM: Yes, Alice Galwyn is an excellent model of what women can do to overcome their hardships, what they can do to succeed in education. I think she’s an excellent person.
End of Interview