Since we began this blog we have been highlighting FCC staff in a series of profiles. As March is Women’s History Month, we will be focusing on some of our female colleagues and talking to them about their experiences as professionals, and as women, working in public service at the FCC. Check out the profiles of Eloise Gore and Shirley Suggs as well.
Chief, Consumer Affairs and Outreach Division
Years at the FCC: 13 years
Before coming to the FCC, Rachel worked in the wireless and finance industries. Her experiences in the private sector as well as the government allowed her to gain a deeper understanding of gender politics in different contexts. Ultimately, she came away with a greater appreciation for the supportive and open atmosphere of the FCC towards women.
One of the societal changes she found interesting was the gradual increase of the presence of women in the academic setting:
When I was in college you’d walk through halls and you’d see photos…of people from medical school or law school. And you could see over the years there’d be pictures of two or three women out of 100 people, and then there’d be pictures of ten out of 100, and all of a sudden there’s pictures and its 50-50 women and men! And it just is fascinating to see it through the ages.
At the same time, she recalls some of the challenges along the way:
When I started working in the early 1980’s I remember being admonished at work…I had to explain that I only wore slacks to work with a blazer and a high neck blouse because I was taking a flight and they said, ‘Well, under those circumstances it’s ok.’ When I started working in Washington you wore pantyhose everyday including all summer long.
Rachel says that she feels that her generation has greatly benefited from the hard work and efforts of women who have come before her:
I think people my age were kind of the first people to benefit from the people who were ten or fifteen or twenty years older because they really were the first ones …at the workforce.
At the FCC, Rachel says that she feels especially comfortable, coming from less welcoming previous experiences in the private sector:
Coming from banking into the federal government gave me an incredible sense of freedom because…there wasn’t as much of an ‘old boy’ network. If I was going into a meeting at a bank…there might be two women and eight guys…and you went to the government agencies and there was almost 50-50.
Rachel works to support other women by providing understanding perspectives and advice on balancing family life with a full-time job. Her personal experience throughout the years has given her an important insight. Gender equality is a slow but sure thing achieved through the efforts of everyday women across all industries.