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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jane Squires, September 21, 2002. Interview R-0192. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Men doubt a woman's ability to succeed as a tobacco auctioneer

Squires remembers that as a woman, she faced challenges as she sought to build a career as a tobacco auctioneer. In order to overcome doubts about her ability to succeed, she had to outperform her male contemporaries. She compares sexism to racism.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jane Squires, September 21, 2002. Interview R-0192. 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

WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
It does seem like the folks I have met in the tobacco— in the warehouse, its seems just like a picture [prefect] example of the "old boys" network.
JANE SQUIRES:
Exactly right.
WILLIAM MANSFIELD:
Coming into it as a woman, what kind of challenges were you confronted with?
JANE SQUIRES:
I trained for a year, with no pay. I felt like it was something that I needed to do. I wasn't comfortable enough with the mechanics of the sale. The chant was never a real problem for me. The sale mechanics I wanted to make sure that I had them down pat, before I accepted a job. I had had job offers before I decided I was ready to take one. Earlier, when Mr. Yergin mentioned there were black auctioneers in Zimbabwe and Malawi too I had never thought about how I would be compared with a minority, but that's exactly, I'm sure, very similar to how it [is]. Because the prejudice. Because there were many, many, many obstacles I had to over come. Not so much with the warehousemen. [The warehousemen] were almost ready for a change of pace. It was never a problem getting a job. I ran into a lot of conflicts with other auctioneers, that I never wanted to happen of course, but you've heard what a competitive business it is. I had to be better than the average young man starting out, for anybody to take me seriously. And to this day, everyday that I sell tobacco, now, I still feel that I have to prove myself. But it's fine. I like that adrenaline.