As a young businesswoman, insofar as I am not yet 40, I am appalled at the recent letter from Mr. Don Wright entitled “Free Advice to Young Career Women.”
Before I outline my criticism, I want to describe myself. I am a Darke County native. My family has lived there for over 200 years. My parents reside on and run a family farm near North Star and I attended school in both Ansonia and Versailles.
I wrote articles on local sports teams for The Versailles Policy while I was in high school. After high school I attended the University of Dayton and became a high school English teacher. After teaching for four years, in Ohio Public Schools, I attended the University of Notre Dame and got an MBA.
Since then I have worked in various leadership capacities in both Fortune 500 companies and small startups. I currently manage a portfolio of business worth over $1 Billion. I share all of this background because I am, I think, the definition a young career woman and I am very disappointed by both Mr. Wright’s description of benefits available for young women who join the Darke County Women’s Republican Club as well as the misogynistic tone of his editorial.
First, I’m saddened by the author’s description of his wife Pepper who “learned to read and write English, in a fashion,” and joined the exclusive club at the behest of her husband who “knew it would be good for her.” Her membership brings Mr. Wright additional benefits because he gets to hear all about her charming dinner companions once per month. How lovely for him!
Let us remember, we are talking about a man who just last summer, in this very newspaper, was published saying about one of his most prized employees: “She has the greatest quality a woman can have, she knows how to keep her mouth shut.” (“A Step Ahead of the Law, The Final Days” Don Wright, The Daily Advocate, June 18, 2016).
I find this to be painfully misogynistic – but am not surprised that it comes from a man who openly admits, in that very same article, that a former mentor/coach identified the following as one of Mr. Wright’s flaws: “Your contempt for the female sex is so obvious it is offensive.”
Back to the present – in last week’s opinion letter, he goes on to describe the career benefits of joining the Women’s Republican Club as connecting with “ole gals” that control more wealth, power, and political influence than “any other group in Darke County.” How did these women amass such wealth, power, and influence? Primarily by marrying well. “They are mostly the wives and widows of the most successful men in the county.” He goes on to describe them as, what I interpret, as gossipy old biddies. “They know everyone and everything that is going on.”
As a successful young career woman, I would advise young women that there are better ways to establish their own identities and make meaningful connections through social, philanthropic, and political groups that are aligned with their aspirations. I would suggest that accepting a sponsorship to pal around with old ladies who married well is not their best course of action. No such lady has provided me any career benefits in my journey from farm girl to business executive. Certainly, there is no harm in expanding one’s network, however, the letter does not highlight any actual career benefits beyond “knowing what’s going on” in Darke County.
If marrying well is the primary aspiration of these young business women, then by all means, they should see if the old ladies have eligible grandsons with trust funds that may soon mature. If they are interested in true business mentorship, however, they should seek out other avenues. Or email me at my new email address: GirlPowerSantaFe@gmail.com
Best, Rebecca Roll
Santa Fe, New Mexico