Southern Women

By Tina Williams

Vol. 1, No. 3, 1978, pp. 23

In Atlanta recently, the YWCA Vocational Counseling Center in conjunction with Project Focus, a CETA funded program offering vocational counseling to high school students, hosted a career conference, featuring a panel of professional Black women in mostly non-traditional career areas. The purpose of the conference was to expose the mostly Black female audience to information, resources and techniques for job hunting.

Women about to enter the work force for the first time, college graduates and what is called unskilled or lesser skilled women discovered that they need not be trapped in pay-nothing jobs; that with actual skill assessment they, too, could find a rewarding career. The employment trends of Black women show them traditionally occupying clerical, office and other service jobs such as secretary, maid, waitress, teacher or nurse. Still more frequently than not, they are earning minimum wages. This conference brought together some of the women who dared to step out beyond established traditions. The common reaction to the conference was "I didn't know there was a Black woman doing that."

The panel included a personnel director for Burger King; a mounted patrolwoman with the Atlanta Police Department; a business manager of a YMCA; an insurance sales person and financial planner; an auto mechanic for Sears; a computer programmer for the Atlanta Constitution; an assistant manager for Southern Bell's Network Design Group; a camerawoman for WXIA television; a special market manager for Coca Cola; a firefighter; and the manager of the largest Black hair care salon in the country.

The second part of the conference allowed participants the chance to develop tools and techniques to help them take that giant step into nontraditional career opportunities.

For information on how to organize a career conference of this nature in your community, write Tina Williams, P. 0. Box 743, Atlanta, Ga. 30303.

Tina Williams was the coordinator for the YWCA Vocational Counseling Center Conference. She lives and works in Atlanta.