Women faced a paradox in mid-twentieth-century America. Thanks to their efforts, World War II production had been robust, and in the peace that followed, more women worked outside the home than ever before, even dominating some professions. Yet the culture, from politicians to corporations to television shows, portrayed the ideal woman as a housewife. Many women happily assumed that role, but a small segment bucked the tide—women who wanted to use their talents differently, in jobs that had always been reserved for men.
In They Called Us Girls: Stories of Female Ambition from Suffrage to Mad Men, author Kathleen Stone meets seven of these unconventional women. In insightful, personalized portraits that span a half-century, Kathleen weaves stories of female ambition, uncovering the families, teachers, mentors, and historical events that led to unexpected paths. What inspired these women, and what can they teach women and girls today?