Work

“Work” is a value-laden term that has changed drastically over time, particularly in relation to women’s daily lives. Despite a legacy of opinions to the contrary, WWHP views women’s work as inherently valuable, whether taking place in the formal structure of paid employment or the private realm of home and family. We seek to understand each woman’s work on her own terms in her own words.

Pauline Marois

Printer, Saltus Press and Worcester Telegram and Gazette

Full time, stay-at-home [mom].  Again, if you live according to your budget and you live lower than your income—I always sewed, I always cooked, and I felt that I didn’t bring money home, but my job was to save money.  And my husband always made me feel that half of a paycheck was my contribution as well because if he had to hire for food and laundry and day care and etc., etc., he’d have to work another part time job.  So, I was always the equal even though I was a homemaker, I was always an equal partner which is more than I can say for some. 

Pauline Marois was an extraordinary woman to interview.  She did work full time but was not paid for it, and still, to this day, she works part time and is not paid for it.  She was a stay-at-home mother and is now a part-time stay-at-home grandmother.  Pauline Marois was born in Worcester and lived in her grandparents’ three-decker with the rest of her family.  In this interview she discusses working at Saltus Press and the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, making her own clothing, marrying her husband, and raising her two daughters.  She said that her husband

Interview Date: 
Fri, 11/07/2014
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Marois

Betsy Landry

Director of Human Resources, Mirick O'Connell

I think also I would suggest that young women learn to prioritize themselves first, which sounds selfish but I don’t mean it in that way.  I think that as women we are daughters and sisters and wives and mothers and employees and we can’t do a good job at doing all those things if we don’t take care of ourselves.  And if we don’t carve out the time to exercise, even if it means getting up extra early in the morning or making sure that we can somehow fit in, literally even if it’s ten minutes a day just for yourself just to take some deep breaths or just to do something that you enjoy because again it’s so easy to get caught up in—and just constantly running from one thing to the next and you’re going to wear down at some point.  And I’ve been through that and I know what that’s like and I just had to learn to take a step back and realize that you can’t be all of those things to all of those people if you’re not taking care of yourself first. 

Betsy Landry is a 46-year-old who grew up in Charlton, MA.  Betsy is half Irish and half English/Scottish.  She is married to Richard Landry and has two daughters.  Kathleen, who likes to be called Kat, is fourteen years old, and Margret, who likes to be called Maggie, is ten years old.  Throughout Betsy’s life, she focused most of her attention on her education and her job.  She attended Assumption College for her Bachelor’s and her MBA.  She majored in Management and minored in Philosophy.  Her main concern in life was what she wanted to do a

Interview Date: 
Fri, 10/31/2014
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Landry

Renee King

Owner, The Queen's Cups

My parents have done so much for me and they helped me start my business and they have their own full time jobs and they come and work here.  And they have to deal with my stress more than anyone else especially around the holidays when I’m mega grouch and like stressed to the limit and they deal with that.  So what keeps me going is knowing that if I keep working hard I’ll be able to do something for them.  Like this is their retirement plan and I don’t want to put my parents in a nursing home when I am older.  I’d like to be able to do something better for them—not better, that’s not the right thing to say, but I’d like to take care of my parents and make sure that they are set, that they can retire and not have to worry about it.  I really want to get into real estate and own some apartment buildings and stuff one day.  They can sell their house and live there for free.  That is like my ultimate goal.  So that’s something that definitely keeps me going and I just know that if I keep working hard that things will pay off.  So I’ve always wanted to—I’ve really respected my mom that she always loved her job and she never really cared about making a ton of money or anything.  She just wanted to do what she loved and on the flip side my dad has always made a little bit more money, but has always hated his job.  And growing up and seeing that I just want to be happy like my mom.  So for me, I just want to continue to do something that I love and not worry about anything else.  So if I keep working hard and still love what I do, then that’s what keeps me going.

Renee King was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1989, to Paul and Barbara King.  Renee attended Worcester State University and received a degree in Psychology.  During, college she started making cupcakes from her parent’s kitchen and began selling them.  After she graduated she opened up her own business, The Queen’s Cups.  In this interview, Renee discusses her struggles with balancing work life and taking care of her health.  She also has encountered difficult times during her life, but talks about her amazing support system that keeps her going.&n

Interview Date: 
Sun, 11/16/2014
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Alison Chisholm Hansen

Author of "The Inventive Life of Charles Hill Morgan," Public Relations

Focus on being the best on what you can do and be the best on what you enjoy doing because that’s going to keep you going.  But some of the guy stuff you’ve got to let it slide off your back like a duck.  I am so embarrassed that I had to tell my daughter not very long ago, “You know, men sometimes, pretty often make more than women do in a job” and she is like, “What?”  “Yeah, we were fighting for it in the ‘70s and the ‘80s and it’s still not right.”  And I’m very sorry that that is still the situation.  And really the only way that it’s going to change is if women continue to ask for the opportunities to prove themselves in ways that won’t be discounted 23 percent whatever it is these days.  You have to have a good attitude and hopefully the gender stuff falls away and they focus on what you do, what you contribute, what the outcomes are and the rest shouldn’t matter. 

Allison Chisolm Hansen was born in New York, New York in the early 1970s where she attended Chapin High School.  Allison met her future husband shortly after college and later had two children with him.  By the age of 24, Allison found her way to Somerville, Massachusetts where she resided for nearly two years.  In this interview, Allison speaks of wonderful journey and path she took to get to the position she is in today.  Living and working in many different places such as New York City, London, and Worcester, Allison shares many of her important past times that molded

Interview Date: 
Thu, 11/13/2014
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Ellen Dunlap

President, American Antiquarian Society

I also feel that when you’re responsible for a big organization and lots of people’s livelihoods depend on me and the success of this organization, I kind of have this responsibility not to wallow in any frustrations, shortcomings, or trials.  You just got to—you know a lot of people are counting on you.  And this institution is two hundred years old, and we have a lot of continuity to maintain, so it kind of puts whatever I’m going through in perspective, and I think that’s useful to get a grip on what are the big issues here, not the little ones.

Ellen Smith Dunlap was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1951.  She currently is President of the American Antiquarian Society [AAS] in Worcester, Massachusetts, an historical organization that was awarded the 2013 National Humanities Medal at a White House ceremony.  She married Art Dunlap, became widowed, and remarried Frank Armstrong.  They have a daughter named Libby Armstrong.  They moved to the Worcester area in 1992 and then relocated to West Boylston, Massachusetts.  Before moving she had lived in Waco, Texas and Lawrence, Kansas with her parents.  She th

Interview Date: 
Fri, 11/07/2014
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Dunlap

Louise Charbonneau

Director, Holden Senior Center

We work for the government, okay?  But we make a difference every day.   And we can see it.  We never have the same day two days in a row.  Here.  Ever.  But because we deal with people and their lives—okay, we deal with the elders, we deal sometimes with their families, trying to help the elders.  We get a lot of feedback that says, especially after someone’s lost a spouse, “I don’t know where I would have been if you people in this building weren’t here.”  So you make a difference every day.  And that’s important to us.  And it’s gratifying.  It really is.  They are a very grateful population, I mean a lot of people will say, “How do you do what you do?  Old people are cranky.”  And yes they are, some of them, but not all of them.  In fact, a very few of them are.  Most of them are quite good-natured and very happy just to be able to come here every day.  It's important to me to make a difference.  And I can honestly say that my staff and I do.   

Louise Charbonneau was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1954.  She is the daughter of Blanche and Wallace Seager, of Swedish and German decent, and originating from Holden, Massachusetts.  Louise grew up in a Protestant home where she attended church every Sunday.  She has two older siblings, one brother, and one sister.  Louise started her working profession for WPI [Worcester Polytechnic Institute] as a secretary for the president.  She married soon after graduating from a two-year college, Becker Junior College, continuing to work for WPI.  Some years lat

Interview Date: 
Mon, 11/17/2014
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Charbonneau

Julie Bailey

Director, Lenfest Animal Health Center, Becker College

I didn't know after college that I was going to go to vet school.  I went and worked for a couple of vets, I worked with a large animal vet, I worked on a farm.  I worked for a small animal vet clinic.  I worked at UMass Memorial doing some volunteer work, doing the child life program kind of going between the human side and the vet side, trying to figure out which I would be better at.  I loved the human side but I realized I was probably just too sensitive for that and I got so attached to the kids that I was working with and I didn't think I was probably the right personality for going into human medicine.  I would've gone into pediatrics, that was definitely what I loved [laughs], but then I realized that would probably be too emotionally hard for me. So, it was hard being a vet too, but it was something I thought I could handle better. 

Julie Bailey was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts in 1974 and attended University of Miami and Colorado State University. Julie began to work for a couple of veterinarians  and animal clinics, then found herself volunteering at the UMASS Memorial Hospital in the child life program. It was at the UMASS Memorial Hospital that Julie realized she could not face children day-to-day and not get emotionally attached so she decided to become a veterinarian.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 11/24/2014
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Erica Ayisi

Reporter, Worcester News Tonight

You only have one life to live.  We are all here one time, and to wake up every day is a blessing.  Some people don't wake up.  Some people wake up and they don’t have legs so they can’t go anywhere, or their legs don’t work.  Or they wake up and they don’t have heat.  I mean, I don’t know, maybe it’s from living in Ghana with no lights and no running water, and some things become important to you versus other things.  So, I’m very grateful.  I’m very, very blessed.

Erica Ayesi is currently a reporter for Worcester News Tonight.  Although she was born in Marlboro, Erica spent a large portion of her childhood in Worcester, and taught at her own high school, Burncoat High School, for six years.  Erica knew that she wanted to be a reporter and, having attained both a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree from the New York Institute of Technology, she was confident that she could succeed.  After an internship with New York One, Erica gained an international internship with eTV Ghana.  This internship became a full-time pos

Interview Date: 
Sun, 11/16/2014
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Ayisi

Tanja Olson

German Jew immigrant from Shanghai

That trip was quite interesting in some ways. I thought it was very exciting being almost 11 years old. We got onto a ship in Shanghai, the SS General Gordon. And we were on third class, so we had – were not in the greatest of places. But, we landed in San Francisco. The trip over was like I said, interesting because we stopped in three different places – we stopped in two different places. We stopped in Yokohama, Japan and we stopped in Hawaii and then we landed at San Francisco. And we went to Worcester due to the fact that there were –some of the churches in the Worcester area were, at that point, getting involved in trying to sponsor people and the people that- in, it was I think a Baptist church-the family that decided to sponsor us were here in Worcester. And when we got to San Francisco we got a ticket on a train and went all the way across the country from San Francisco to Chicago, from Chicago to Worcester.

Tanja Olson was born in Berlin, Germany on November 12, 1938 and later lived in Worcester for a good portion of her life. As a Jew in Nazi Europe, she and her family were forced to flee their home and came to reside in Shanghai, China. During their time in Shanghai, both Tanja’s mother and father passed away, but luckily Tanja’s grandmother, Margaret Mendel, was there to take care of her. Once leaving Shanghai, Tanja and her grandmother came to live in Worcester. In this interview, Tanja discusses the portion of her life spent in Shanghai.

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Interview Date: 
Tue, 03/11/2014
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Cherisa Hernandez

High School Math Teacher

Women are very strong individuals. We’re not necessarily strong in strength, but we show our strength in other places. We are very compassionate and we are strong in that aspect. I am very compassionate about my job, I’m very passionate about my job and in my job I show compassion.

Cherisa Hernandez was born in1985 in Boston, Massachusetts. Originally from Trinidad, with her father currently residing in her homeland, she has lived in Massachusetts most of her life, but did attend some schooling in Trinidad. Growing up in the inner city of Boston, she was able to participate in the METCO program, allowing her to receive an education at a suburban school system, in Concord, which helped her achieve her educational goals. Cherisa did not always aspire to be a teacher; originally she planned on studying Pre-Law at Boston College.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 03/31/2014
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