Role of gender in relationship to career
Neal addresses the issue of gender in relationship to her work with the County Board of Education and the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Board of Education Association. While suggests that education was a "natural" place for women to take a public role, she argues that she did not see her work in association with women's issues, but rather she was motivated by a commitment to public service. Moreover, she insists that she never faced gender discrimination.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Patricia Neal, June 6, 1989. Interview C-0068. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
This is coming somewhat out of the blue, but I mentioned to you my
interest generally in women and politics or women who are activists, and
it seemed easy to make the connection - education, children,
these are women's issues, these are women's
concerns. Do you think along those lines? Is that what motivates you or
is there some other, what would be the word, maybe, wellspring, for the
kind of work that you're doing now in this very long
commitment, twenty years, to education?
- PATRICIA NEAL:
Well, you know, I guess I don't see it primarily as a
woman's issue, Kathy, I really don't. I see it
being motivated by a, really a lifetime of public service, commitment to
trying to leave this world a little better than I found it, and one of
the things that I feel very strongly about is that I have never felt
discriminated against as a woman, and I was elected to a school board
and then elected chairman by four men at a time when there were very few
women on school boards across this county and in North Carolina in
particular. And then to be elected chairman was, you know, there were
only three or four of us in North Carolina at that time that were
chairman of our respective boards. And then I got into real estate,
which when I got into that was, you know, in the mid-70s, was a very
much male-dominated profession. Maybe I've just been lucky in
the people that I have worked with, just really never thought about
discriminating against a woman. But
I've found every entry into that arena extraordinarily
satisfying and free of any bias and prejudice against women.
It's been a very fulfilling experience.
- KATHRYN NASSTROM:
I would think so. And part of the reason I asked the questions that way
is that I read just recently that in terms of women either appointed or
elected to government positions, whether it be on the local level or
nationally, that education has been one avenue into politics for women,
meaning the whole service kinds of things, and that women have made the
most progress, being highest representation, on school boards,
committees. That that's really been a place of advancement
for women in politics.
- PATRICIA NEAL:
Well, I'm sure you're right. Again, it's
kind of a natural because of the early involvement of mothers with the
schools and, I think, much broader appreciation of the issues.