Amelia Earhart: Pilot and feminist (+video)
Amelia Earhart broke aviation records and gained the respect of male pilots. But Amelia Earhart also held modern views about gender roles, and demanded equal status in her marriage.
Amelia Earhart, the famed aviatrix, is best remembered for the mystery surrounding her 1937 disappearance – and by the way, Google is honoring her today with a birthday doodle. But Earhart’s views about gender equality are arguably as noteworthy as her flight records.
Earhart started challenging gender stereotypes early in her life. According to ameliaearhart.com, the official website produced by her family, Earhart, who grew up in Atchison, Kans., was a tomboy who loved climbing trees, hunting rats with a .22 rifle, and “belly-slamming” her sled to start it downhill.
As a young girl, she kept a scrapbook of newspaper clippings about great women of the time in fields of all sorts; film, law, advertising, management, and mechanical engineering.
"Even as a child, as a little girl, she said she should be allowed to do anything a boy would be allowed to do," says Louise Foudray, the caretaker and historian for the Amelia Earhart museum in Atchison.
Her parents’ turbulent marriage is also said to have contributed to her feminist mindset. Her mother was raised in a wealthy family, and her father struggled under the pressure to provide his wife with the sort of lifestyle she was used to. The couple eventually divorced.
Earhart swore that someday she would be an independent woman, and would never rely on a man for financial support. She worked her way to financial independence as a nurse’s aide in a military hospital in Canada during WWI, and later as a social worker in Boston.
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