Women's Rights Advocate
As a women’s rights advocate, historian, and former technology executive, Elaine writes about bold and extraordinary women and men who became trailblazers against gender discrimination. Her stories call attention to the potential loss of civil rights we may be taking for granted today and hopes to inspire her readers to be resolute in defending the freedoms previously won through decades of dedicated work and persistence. Elaine has published memoirs and non-fiction stories about how she and other women and men triumphed over personal and workplace adversities and emerged transformed. She is a member of various writers, history, and women’s organizations, a former vice-president of the California Writers Club—Redwood Branch, and co-chair of the Redwood Writers 2018 Pen to Published Writers Conference. In addition, she is a photographer and swimmer and lives with her 15-year-old rescue cat, Princess, in Sonoma County, California.
The first high school lesson Elaine learned was, as a female, there were societal impediments obstructing her rights as a female. The counselors didn’t know what to do with her after she tested in the 99th percentile for mechanical ability and language on the state aptitude test. She wanted to take drafting or woodshop classes but they enrolled her in home economics against her wishes. They said, “You’re a girl, and those classes are for boys only, no exceptions.” Shocked and furious, she felt devalued.
At UCLA, she became a women’s rights advocate, joined the National Organization for Women and subscribed to MS. magazine the day it came out and still supports the Equal Rights Amendment. Following graduation, she worked as a secondary history teacher in the Los Angeles City School District and specialized in dissent and reform in American history.
She married a fiction writer and journalist and moved from Los Angeles to Berkeley. After substitute teaching for a while, she got a job as an administrative assistant in the telecommunications industry. An engineer mentored and trained her to design and write telephone systems specifications and give sales presentations to potential customers. She was thrilled to put her mechanical and language abilities to work finally. When the company decided to open a systems design analyst job, she was first in line with her application—only to learn that women weren’t allowed to apply. She saw no other option but to quit. Only later she discovered she could have filed a complaint based on sexual discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, the agency established by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to enforce laws against workplace discrimination.
She was fortunate to happen upon the computer technology revolution of the 70s and 80s. Besides having a job that tested the first personal computers used in the banking industry, she was a technical writer and trainer and eventually became a Vice President at Wells Fargo Bank. She is proud to have founded the San Francisco Bay Area Branch of the Help Desk Institute to mentor local computer support professionals, primarily women rarely respected for their customer service and technical abilities. Later, she became a technology director at a Sonoma County school district and president of a California state-regulated mutual water company. So, despite initial setbacks, she had a successful career.
Before her husband passed away, he encouraged her to write about her experiences with workplace discrimination, and she began to write a series of short stories. Then, fate intervened when she met Barbara “Dusty” Roads at the Sonoma County Family YMCA swimming pool and discovered the stewardess who had a crucial role igniting the Women’s Movement in the 1950s. Elaine believes destiny led her to write Dusty Roads: How the Women’s Movement Took Flight.
Elaine is a member and past vice-president of the California Writers Club, Redwood Branch, and co-chair of the Redwood Writers 2018 Pen to Published Writers Conference. She’s also a member of the Non-fiction Authors Association, National Association of Memoir Writers, American Association of University Women (AAUW), National Organization for Women (NOW), and the American Historical Association. She also supports the National Women’s History Project, the National Women’s Museum, and the Feminist Majority Foundation.
Her hobby, photography, began when she got her first camera in 1960—a Kodak Brownie. She explores California backroads to shoot photos of landscapes, birds, animals, and flowers.
Her new book, Dusty Roads: How the Women’s Movement Took Flight is due to be published in Spring 2023.