Reader Survey Results: Winter 1999 • Female Heroes

Compiled by Courtney Hastings, Press Intern

In the last issue of the National NOW Times we asked our readers to tell us about their "sheros" in honor of women like astronaut-hopeful Jerrie Cobb who have the talent, drive and skills of their male counterparts but are rarely elevated to the same level.  Here is a summary of the results:

1) What do you think makes someone a shero?

Readers told us that a shero fits one, some or all of the following descriptions:

One respondent felt that using "cutesy" terms like "shero" only serves to separate women's accomplishments from men's in a way that puts them in a "lesser category" and that, in order to be regarded on equal levels, we should not segregate ourselves through language.

"The same things that make men heroes: courage, integrity, caring for others."
—Hester Lewellen, Clevelend Hts., Ohio

"Someone who turns down an easier lifestyle for one that is consistent with her beliefs."
—Dawn Dreisbach, Somerville, Mass.

2) What woman in your own life is your shero? Why?

The three most popular answers:

Other common responses included aunt, sister, daughter, spouse, co-worker/boss, "me," professor, nun, and a local NOW activist.

"My spouse.  At 44 she has suffered with rheumatoid arthritis for many years. She endures pain and suffering everyday yet is on the go 12 hours a day inspiring everyone she meets. She is a very strong and courageous woman. Even though we have two kids, my life without Kim would be nothing."
— Steve Plutt, Lake George, Colo.

"Myself.  I reported a rape to my employer, the Department of Defense, and fought for my right to a rapist-free workplace."
—Janet Turner, San Francisco, Calif.

3) When you were growing up what female role model most influenced you? Why?

As in questions two and four, most respondents chose their mother or Eleanor Roosevelt as their role model.  Many readers also paid homage to teachers and principals.  Others honored the following unique women: Nancy Drew, a Girl Scout leader, Scarlett O'Hara, Jackie Kennedy, Billie Jean King, Mary Tyler Moore and Virginia Woolf.

"My mother . . . Her skills kept us from experiencing homelessness and hunger, which might have happened when dad became unemployed.”
—Roberta Paro, New London, Conn.

"My second grade teacher . . . Ms. Hubbard knew I was a lonely, abused child.  She did more than she was required to as a teacher. She took me to the zoo once and she encouraged me to excel.”
—Allison Tucker, Winter Park, Fla.

4) What woman in history is your shero? Why?

The five most popular answers were:

Other answers included Joan of Arc, Marie Curie, Amelia Earhart, Dolores Huerta, Rosa Parks, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Gloria Steinem.

"Rosa Parks is one. Her refusal to go to the back of the bus ONE MORE TIME gave impetus to a great civil rights movement.  When my feminist spirits sag, I often think of her and am revitalized.”
—Dorothy Davies, Wilmar, Minn.

"All the women from the past who survived growing up in a 'man's world,' proving who's the stronger gender, are sheroes to me."
—Alana Vincent, Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada

5) What current woman in public life is a true shero? Why?

The most popular answers:

Others:  Chelsea Clinton, Jerrie Cobb, Elizabeth Dole, Marion Wright Edelman, Anita Hill, Patricia Ireland, Winona LaDuke, Eleanor Smeal and Alice Walker.

"All of the women of RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan,are my sheroes.  They are fighting for the greatest thing in the world—freedom."
—Jennifer DeFosse, Muscatine, Iowa

"Actress/comedian Janeane Garafolo because she goes against the Hollywood 'grain.' She stands on her talent, not her looks, and that is a RARE thing in the entertainment world; it takes a lot of guts."
—Traz Sobel, New York, N.Y.

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