Marriott Alumni Magazine

Spring Summer 1977 Exchange

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Page 41 of 51

EXCHANGE: ALUMNI/ALUMNAE Service in the Civil Service The fact is, most women work because they have to support themselves or their families. They are not just looking for supplementary income, according to BYU alumna Sharon Stromberg. As the director of office skills training for the Civil Service Commission, Mrs. Stromberg is responsible for establishing the curriculum for all federal employees in the area of office skills and management. In addition, she is the federal women's program coordinator for the Civil Service Commission and is involved in national programs pertaining to hiring, recruitment, placement, and promotion activities. According to Mrs. Stromberg (Business Education, 1958) one of the primary obstacles facing women in the public sector is not only the stereotyped attitudes of managers, but the attitude of women themselves. "There are still many cases where women say they are not going to try because they feel they can't succeed or they feel managers wouldn't allow them to have a particular job. This kind of attitude is really an escape hatch.'' Mrs. Stromberg's training efforts are aimed at improving self-esteem and helping individuals think of themselves "as professionals with important ideas and the ability to make decisions without waiting for someone else to determine what can be done. In other words, we are trying to give them some measure of stability. We are trying to say to them that they are thinking individuals." She has also seen that the attitudes of men and women regarding their respective roles are largely a product of social conditioning. "For a long time, society made us very aware of what the female should do and what the male should do. It is hard to overcome all of those internal feelings we have grown up with. It will take several generations for us to overcome some of those attitudes. Yet we need to remember that family life is very important. We should not tell all young women that they must focus only on a life-long career." Despite the advancement women seem to have made in employment opportunities, Mrs. Stromberg does not see the progress as very substantial. She stresses that some individuals are misconstruing many of the actions that are being taken in the way of equal employment opportunities. They are saying that women are getting more opportunities and, therefore, pushing white males and minorities out of jobs. "There really is a very high percentage of women who work because they absolutely have to work. The female who is never married is, of course, responsible for her own income-and this amounts to 23 percent of the women who work. Another 19 percent are widowed, divorced, or separated. That is 42 percent of the female labor force that has to work. "In addition to that, 25 percent have husbands earning less than $10,000 a year. With two to four children, $10,000 is not going to go very far. It becomes clear that their incomes are not merely a 'supplement.'" According to Mrs. Stromberg, work in the federal government is not " terribly boring, with everyone regimented into little pigeon holes." On the contrary, she feels that many jobs are stimulating and rewarding. "I must admit that I am in a good position, for my particular job allows me the freedom of creativity." She adds, “That is not to say there isn't red tape in the government. But there definitely is not as much as most people would believe." Sharon Stromberg prepares to tape a television program

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