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.

Susan Kasper

Nurse; Donut Shop Owner

Because when I first got to [St. Peter] Marion I had fun there. I really liked it, but they had home-ec rooms, there was a sewing room, and then there was like this cooking room and I was on the tail end of all that going away. But I did experience it for like that little bit and then it was gone ....  you just didn’t do that anymore. So when they brought St. Peter’s and Marion together, it just became like probably what it is today. It was just academic, you know, it was just school and they got rid of all that stuff.

Susan Mary Kasper was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she still continues to live today. Not only did she attend grammar school and high school in Worcester, Susan is also a member of the Assumption College graduating class of 1982. Experiencing the Worcester education system first hand, Susan is extremely familiar with the changes and transitions of the schools over the years, and reflects on its progress in gender equality. In addition to owning a donut shop with her husband William, and working as a nurse at UMass Memorial Hospital, Susan is also a mother of two.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 10/01/2013
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Kasper

Michelle Jones-Johnson

Director Human Resources UMass Medical School

Well, when I think back on my education, especially at University of Michigan, that was right around the time when they had opened the doors for a lot of minority students through affirmative action. There was a constant challenge of trying to overcome the perception that that was the only reason why you were there was because you were a minority student.

Michelle Jones-Johnson was born in Detroit, Michigan. She lived in the Midwest for the majority of her lifetime, and is relatively new to the city of Worcester. She moved to Worcester four years ago in 2010. Prior to coming to Worcester, Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor and two master’s degrees. She has worked in the field of Human Resources for the past 23 years at various companies, and continues to do so today as Director of Human Resources at UMass Medical School.

Interview Date: 
Sun, 11/03/2013
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Patricia Jones

Owner, P.L. Jones & Associates P.C.

I recall that I had mentioned the teaching mentor that I had who always said if you go to school and work hard you can do anything. And I would say going to school means continuous education. It doesn’t need to be a structured school, but it’s important that people are always learning. And I do think that it’s important for individuals in future generations to know that they need to contribute to their own destiny. It’s not something – it’s not an entitlement – and that they have to work for themselves to accomplish something. So that would be my advice – what was passed on to me. I would say continue your education, not necessarily that it needs to be in a formal setting and work hard by contributing to your own destiny.

Patricia Jones was born in Worcester in a neighborhood near Chandler Street.  She dropped out of school at age 16 to marry and have children.  When she divorced, she realized that her calling was to public accounting.  She attended Quinsigamond Community College and discovered she liked accounting. She went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Suffolk University and later her graduate degree from Bentley University. Patricia Jones began working as a partner and eventually became the owner of  P.L.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/17/2013
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Jones

Beth Foley

Marriage and Family Therapist

Well it’s really stressful and for me I had such a hard time having my children – I lost four before the two that I have – that once I had them, I wanted to stay home and take care of them. So I stayed home all day, and then went to work at night. But you always feel like you’re not doing the right thing. The working moms are giving you dirty looks for being home, the stay-at-home moms are giving you dirty looks for going to work and it’s because we have this false concept which is you can do everything perfectly.

Beth Foley was born in 1968 in Worcester MA, where she also attended Saint Peter Marian High School and Assumption College. After graduating from Assumption she went on to obtain her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Anna Maria College. After obtaining her master’s degree she went on to start her own private practice in Sterling MA, where she counseled children. She and her mother were the only mother-daughter private practice in Massachusetts. In this interview Beth explains the struggles she faces with being a divorced single mother while running her own business.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/24/2013
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Foley

Angela Bovill

President and CEO Lutheran Social Services of New England

But it is hard because society expects you to be one way, and in reality, if you’re going to do a job like this one, there’s no way to do both. Not well. You can try, and I’ve tried for years to manage how to do both, but in, in reality, the sacrifices are very high.

Angela Bovill tells about her life as a President and CEO of Lutheran Social Services of New England, mother, and wife. Lutheran Social Services serves refugees from Iraq, Bhutan, Nepal, Somalia, Liberia, Uganda, and Lithuania. She explains how her self-image changed over time as her confidence grew, and how that gave her the power to be herself in a career which severely lacks women, especially those with school-aged children. It took many years to get to the place where she now finds herself: a confident woman with a lot of belief in her own abilities as a leader.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 10/11/2013
Interview Focus: 
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Katherine Abbott

Executive Director Tower Hill Botanical Garden
Interview Date: 
Sun, 11/10/2013
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Abbott

Marianne Felice

Chair of Pediatrics, UMass Medical School

And I think of the department that I ran as a garden...I think of all the faculty that I’ve recruited as a flower. I could have had all roses…real flashy, but they have thorns, roses do. So you can have all tulips, but I think of the faculty in the department as a different kind of flower. Some need lots of sunshine, some need lots of water, some are going to be okay with benign neglect. They don’t even need you.

Dr. Marianne Elizabeth Felice was born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania in 1943 and works at UMass Medical School in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. She and her husband, John Giles, moved to Shrewsbury in 1998 when Marianne was offered the chair of pediatrics. Marianne has devoted her time to her job, advocacy efforts, and her husband. Networks of women have played an important role in her life and experiences, and she continues to value these relationships today. In this interview, Marianne reflects upon the struggles and joys of her life and experiences within the medical field.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 04/04/2013
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Kathryn Tsandikos

Co-owner, Coney Island Hot Dogs

[Coney Island] does [have an ipact on the community] and I that’s why I love it, you know the fact that my grandparents had it, the fact that my father worked here, the fact I can be here and kind of carry it on the best I can. I mean people still talk about my grandmother, and she’s the one who should be giving an oral history because she was remarkable. I don’t hold a candle to her and you know maybe someday I will, but she was just incredible. And they did an obituary for her in the Worcester paper, she was just like a really unique woman so, you know that’s what’s neat being able to keep that going.

The interview of Kathryn Tsandikos focuses primarily on religious background, ethnic roots, and her present day occupation. Kathryn expressed a major aspect throughout her life was religion because of its prominence in her family. Her father is a Greek Orthodox Priest at St. Spyridon’s in Worcester, MA and also Co-owns the business that Kathryn runs today. She expressed that having her father involved deeply in the church shaped her life in various ways.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 04/18/2013
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Barbara Kohin

Physicist, Professor, Worcester Councilwoman

When I first came to Worcester it was [challenging]. The colleges didn’t hire women. I sent my resume to WPI, Holy Cross, Assumption. I mean Clark was accepting women, but my husband already worked there so that didn’t work. I sent my resumes around and they didn’t even answer. They didn’t respond or acknowledge. I remember, I thought I’d call up WPI and talk to the Physics guy and he said, “Well, we do have an opening for a Molecular Physicist” and I said ‘I am a molecular physicist!’ And he said, “Really?” I never got an interview. So I did get a job finally, at Worcester State.

Barbara Kohin, a former councilwoman in Worcester Massachusetts, was born in 1932 in Providence, Rhode Island. She attended the College of William and Mary, in which she graduated in 1953. After getting married to her husband Roger, she had three children, and now has two grandchildren. Barbara tells about her experiences growing up as a woman in America and the struggles she faced. She discusses these events such as not getting a job as a physicist at General Electric or as a professor at local colleges in Worcester.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 03/20/2013
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Kohin

Melinda Boone

Superintendent of Worcester Public Schools

When I came [to Worcester], I initiated a State of the Schools annual message to the community, where I talk about what our focus is, what we’re successful in accomplishing and where our greatest needs are going forward, and we know that we have to prepare all of our students for today and tomorrow’s jobs—today’s jobs—tomorrow’s jobs. And so what does the workforce look like? We know also that a higher performing school system is certainly an enhancement to economic development within the city. So we want to be able to showcase our best and brightest schools and students as part of the economic development, but my overarching goal is to ensure that every child is college and career ready, and I say both because when you look at entrance requirement for jobs, and the entrance requirements for colleges, they are very much the same now. So gone are the days of being able to separate the two…....But additionally, you know, I respect the parent’s right to choose, whether, you know, public, private, parochial, or charter. I want to position the Worcester Public Schools at a place where they will want to choose us…

Dr. Melinda J. Boone is an African American woman born in 1959, from Norfolk, Virginia who became Worcester's Superintendent of Schools in 2009. Much of her identity originates from her perseverance through struggles over the course of her life. These struggles include racial prejudice throughout her education, as well as her being a woman in a job many of her colleagues assumed was male-oriented. Though she certainly had difficulties and troubling times with her family, including the loss of her husband, both her family and faith provide sources of inspiration and comfort for Melinda.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 02/28/2013
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