Administrative Management Specialist, Media Bureau
President, Blacks in Government
Years at FCC: 37 years
Shirley Suggs was recruited to the FCC secretarial pool out of high school in 1973. She worked her way up in the agency, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees, all while raising her family and breaking through barriers for women. She has become a leader at the agency, currently serving as the President of Blacks in Government.
I’ve been here a long time so I’ve seen how things changed for women. … I remember having this male supervisor who … intimidated women. It was at a point he just wanted to make sure we stayed at our desks, but of course the men didn’t. The men weren’t intimidated like that. It came to a point where I said, “Okay, this has got to stop.”
She is grateful for the contributions of women in the past and present for helping to change not only the way that women are seen, but the way that they see themselves.
I think that women have chosen to be who they are and not be afraid of the consequences of standing up for themselves, and that’s the only way that change is going to occur, for us to move into better positions.
Women’s History Month and the honor of being profiled for this project were a welcome opportunity for her to reflect on her own path, and the paths of so many other women in our history.
I thought about all the women through history… Sojourner Truth, the women through the suffrage, you know all these women – women that kind of pushed, and still are pushing… [I admire] Michelle Obama, for obvious and less obvious reasons. Of course she is the first lady of the United States and she is African-American. She is a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a role model.
For younger women who are just starting their careers at the FCC, she has this advice:
Look at what you want to be. We all know that motherhood and “wifehood” - if I can put it that way - are difficult roles, and it’s a role that stays with us. But do all the things that you want to do, and then kind of surround [motherhood and wifehood] around you.
Shirley’s strength and wisdom have guided her through nearly four decades of standing up for herself and her colleagues. She has helped to make the FCC a more diverse and inclusive place, where anyone can succeed. Click on Shirley's image to see a video of our interview with her.