Work: Challenges

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Guion Griffis Johnson

Guion G. Johnson
- North Carolina Collection

"I had to be prepared to
support them"
- Guion Griffis Johnson

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Women in academic and professional careers often faced very particular challenges and obstacles that men in their positions did not encounter. Just as women had been obliged to take up the typically male role of head of household during the World Wars, women in academia and the professional arena were equally responsible for supporting themselves and often their families as well.

In one excerpt, Guion Griffis Johnson recalls how concern for her husband's health galvanized her to continue her work as a social scientist and historian in order to be able to support her family and her children's education should her husband's health fail.

"My abiding sense of guilt"
- Mary Turner Lane

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Along with the need to provide financial support for themselves and their families, women in professional positions faced other challenges. Although some women on such paths remained single for most of their lives, others were wives and mothers, as well as wage-earners. Mary Turner Lane described taking a full-time job and feeling a tremendous sense of guilt for not being home for her daughter in the afternoons.

"Out of the work force"
- Juanita Kreps

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Many female professionals experienced feelings of division, dual loyalties, or even guilt as they struggled to balance their careers with their other duties as women. Depending on their situations, some female trailblazers left their careers for a time in order to focus on other priorities, such as raising children. Some returned to their work later in life, and others undertook the demands of both home and career at the same time throughout most of their lives.