By Jackie Clifton
Rosie Perez”s character in the movie, “It Could Happen to You,” told her husband, “I have wings. I need to fly.”
BYU Women”s Research Institute is celebrating those who strapped on their wings and achieved great things as part of Women”s History Month.
Every Thursday in March at noon, the Institute will discuss women”s issues in Room 325 of the Spencer W. Kimball Tower. Topics will include family life, work roles, dating interactions, unwed mothers, and women in Chile and Mali.
During Women”s History Month, women are being recognized who have stood up to their husbands, parents, teachers or whoever it might have been who told them they could not achieve their dreams, like Amelia Earhart and Jerrie Cobb.
These women”s efforts in the fight for equality are visible today on BYU”s campus as more women choose to combine career and family.
Christy Gerrard works every day to support herself and her husband while completing a graduate degree in school counseling and psychology. She said she always thought she would just get married and have children, never to work again.
“As I got older, I realized things don”t always end up happily ever after and moms don”t always get to stay home,” she said.
Gerrard”s husband supports her in her dreams and said he wants her to have whatever makes her happy.
“When we talked about it before we got married, we said after kids I would stay home,” she said. “But the more we talk about it and the more we see how life goes, it probably won”t turn out that way.”
Gerrard said she loves what she does and can see herself working after having children.
“I can do that and still be a good mom,” she said.
Aaron Jackson, an assistant professor of counseling psychology and special education, counsels students on career choices.
He said women come to him and are troubled with deciding between a career and a family.
“You don”t have to choose one or the other,” Jackson said. “It”s not all or none.”
If women had not fought for equal opportunity in the past, women like Gerrard would not even have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.
Intrigued with flight, Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.
“As soon as we left the ground,” she said about her first flight, “I knew I myself had to fly.”
Decades later, Cobb strapped on her wings.
Although completing the 87 physical and psychological tests administered by NASA to be an astronaut and outdoing the men”s results, NASA still chose only men, including John Glenn, to participate in the space mission.
During the congressional investigation, NASA admitted they never intended to allow women to fly.
Even though she could not fly into space, she continued flying planes to South America to deliver medical supplies in hazardous environments, earning her a Nobel Peace Prize.