Kay Iversen

As interviewed by Georgia McLeod, March 20, 2016

Kay Iversen: In Her Own Words

By the 1960s, women were entering more fields, but for the most part there were only two jobs women really could count on getting: teaching and nursing. Beyond those fields, anything women did was like a blockbuster. Women did not go into business for the most part. Even if they did get [a] job [other than teaching and nursing], which was a much more uphill proposal than for men, they could expect to be underpaid compared to men for their entire careers. The original excuse, which may have been partially true in the 1940s and throughout the 50s, was that women didn't have to support families. As times have changed in the dwindling middle class with dwindling finances, most middle class families require two full paychecks to support their families.

All my life I had wanted to be a journalist. I had wanted to be some type of writer. So the first job I applied for when I graduated from college in English and journalism from the University of North Carolina was [working for] newspapers. I had applied to almost every newspaper in the state of North Carolina and been turned down and was starting in on Virginia when finally a small, colonial newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia gave me a job as assistant news editor which meant glorified copy writer for thirty five dollars a week, which even then was not easy to live on. Boys who graduated in the same class [as me] were being snapped up by large urban newspapers easily, and some of the same places I applied to I later found boys I knew in the same class were getting, even people who were possibly less qualified. I think that women were not getting jobs in journalism in the 1960s because of long time prejudice against women in the working world and, of course, competitiveness.

So I went back to college and got a degree in teaching English, which had been my major anyway. It only took a few more hours to get the teaching degree. I taught English, which of course I enjoyed, but I did regret that I hadn't been able to go into journalism.

Women’s opinions carry a different message than men’s, so for that reason I think it's vitally important that their voices be heard. Women frequently have a more conciliatory attitude toward confrontations that arise.

The Equal Rights Movement was something that was close to my heart, so I participated in it as actively as I could. I was a young mother when it began and I lived in Charlotte North Carolina. I joined a consciousness raising organization. These were small neighborhood discussion groups that women in the early 70s had to discuss women's rights in their own homes and cities. Later on, I joined marches and protest rallies for the women's movement. In 89, I believe, [my daughter] and I met in Washington D.C. and both of us went to an enormous equal rights protest in Washington, probably the biggest one of all. For a long time we thought that the Equal Rights Amendment would get passed. It never did get passed. I think that even though we didn't get the Equal Rights [Amendment] passed, the women's rights movement did make people much more aware of the problems women had.