Women at work

I went to work at the Guy Gannett Publishing Company in 1987 (now MaineToday Media, which recently became the parent company of Maine Women Magazine). I was the third woman hired as a manager, and the first manager there to become pregnant. So, one could argue, I was a trailblazer of sorts in a corporate business environment. I didn’t feel that way at the time, and in fact I really didn’t think much about feminism or women’s rights then—I just forged on. I remember my boss’ reaction when I told him I was pregnant. He said, “I’ve got to call the general manager. I don’t know what to do about this.” I laughed and told him there was nothing at all he needed to do. After my daughter Jessica was born and my male co-workers thought it would be funny to dump out my hard-earned breast milk, which I’d stored in the only refrigerator available to staff, I took them to task and let them know that they were juvenile jerks. At the time, I never thought of myself as being mistreated—misunderstood, perhaps—but not mistreated.

Unfortunately, that changed years later when I reported to a new manager, a woman, who was single and did not have children. To say that she did not cut any slack for parents with small children would be an understatement. It didn’t matter if the kids were sick, if there was a snow day or an early release from school or any other thing that might interfere with my scheduled workday. No excuses, I had to be there and be there on time. It was not a family-friendly environment on any level. I moved on and ahead in my career, and I made a commitment to be aware of both the needs of the organization and the also the needs of women with children who are trying to juggle all of the parts of their life. That’s why I absolutely love the story in this issue about June Tait and how she has taken great steps to do this same thing with her business, Scarborough Physical Therapy. As a parent herself, she understands that flexibility is the key ingredient to a healthy work/life balance. Read her story on page 18. Congratulations to June and her happy staff!

This issue is all about women who have overcome obstacles and forged ahead in their business to create the environment that was just right for them. Stephanie Lay’s salsa-making business was born from a need to nurture her autistic son. Read her story on page 6. Kristin Furrow had a dream as a kid to open her own consignment store, and she did just that. Read this story on page 14 and learn how she kept her vision but altered her course from time to time. Jennifer Scism, an award-winning chef in NYC, was a successful business co-owner and also a member of the first women-only team on “Iron Chef” when she fell in love with an avid outdoorsman and ditched the city for a whole new way of life in Maine. Jennifer kept her food passion alive by creating a whole new business of to-go foods perfect for hiking, backpacking, camping, etc. Read her story on page 10.

Also in this issue, as part of our It Happens Here series, we are talking about domestic abuse. In Maine, one domestic abuse call is made every hour and 47 minutes. One in four women will be victims of domestic abuse. Learn more in our story on page 26 and meet Luba Greene, a survivor. Thanks for reading and please connect with us—we love hearing from you.

Lee Hews

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