Marie Irene Chandler


As Interviewed by Noah Loy, March 15, 2019

Marie Chandler: In Her Own Words

My name is Marie Irene Chandler. I was born in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. I was raised in Columbia station, which is a couple miles outside of Cuyahoga county.

When and from whom did you first experience sexism?

It would be from my parents. My parents were the first generation over here. My grandparents were from Poland and so in Poland, being 100% Polish, boys are allowed to do more than girls. My community is very, very small, maybe 15,000 people. My family, very small in numbers. My immediate family is small. I have two brothers and two sisters. My brother Joe, who is the oldest, believes that women are in second place -- he believes that even to this day. My brother Steve and I were raised basically together. Steve is two years older than me and he would teach and do things with me that girls were never permitted to do.

Example, he would take me out to the woods and he would let me drive the tractor, which girls were not allowed to drive vehicles. He taught me how to use the hand tools, which, you know, girls could use a hoe but we couldn't use electric items. Today, women are luckier because we get to give our opinions. But in my family, if you were a female, you were not allowed to give your opinion.

Did you ever think it was unfair?

Oh yes. Automatically. Because I would see my brother's getting to do things, say drive a tractor, drive a car out on our farm while my sisters who are much older than I were not allowed to do that. They had to stay back and hang clothes up, learn how to cook and clean.

Even cleaning the barns where we were, you know, we were raised on a farm. They did a lot of work like that. But to do anything electrical, they could not.

What about now? Do you think you're treated fairly at work?

I don't think anybody is ever treated fairly at work, whether you're male or female. And the reason why I say that is because there are lot of things that I can do that a man can do, but yet it's not asked of me because they don't feel that a female can do this. And the same goes for a man. They don't look at us as what we can do. They say see us as male and female. So we need to stop that and say: "okay, you know what? This person can do the job. It doesn't matter if they're male or female."

There are some things that I believe in my heart that a female cannot do, and that's lifting heavy objects up. I believe in women being in our military. I have concerns of them. If they can still support the person that they're defending, that they're with. If their partner, you know, falls, can they lift them? Can they lift up a 200 pound soldier?

Did sexism affect your present self in a positive or negative way?

I think it affected me positively and the reason why I say that is because I think it's made me a stronger person that I am today. I basically am very opinionated. I believe in education strongly for anybody and everybody, and especially for women -- that you should be able to do the same thing that a man can do. You should be able to mow your yard. You should be able to work on your computer. You should be able to do everything and anything.

If you could change one thing about the way you were treated during childhood, what do you think would be?

If I could change anything, I would like to see my sisters and I get an education. We were never permitted to get an education. After high school, we all went and got jobs, and so we never had the opportunity to go to college, and it was very traumatic.

I think it's improved immensely from back. I'm 62 years-old and I think that education for women has just soared right now. I see it back in my hometown. I see it with my sisters. You know, they're always learning to do something. They haven't worked a computer yet, but they've done so outstanding -- I think it has improved immensely.