Shedding light on working women

By Jazelle Artman 

The Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor recently received a quarterly grant of $7,500 from The Ohio Humanities Council to conduct and archive the stories of working women within Mahoning County. 

Marcelle Wilson, site manager at the YHCIL, said the museum has hired two researchers to conduct interviews. 

“We have two researchers who are contacting women who have worked outside the home from the 1970s through the 2000s. They set up oral history interviews, which we do here at the museum. Once they conduct those, we have a spreadsheet that we utilize to quantify the information that we gather about women’s experiences outside the home,” Wilson said. 

Wilson said the steel museum is looking for women of all ages willing to interview and share their experiences. 

“We want to talk to young women who are in the workplace now, women who have been working and then women who’ve retired because they can share their experiences. They can commiserate with problems and they can see how change and improvement has occurred,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the interviews are targeted to women facing challenges in a variety of areas. 

 “We are not specifically looking for women who face challenges. We are collecting information on how women are dealing in the workplace and we’re finding that a lot of the issues pertain to families as a whole,” Wilson said. 

Wilson also said the museum wants a variety of women from different cultural backgrounds because of Youngstown’s rich and diverse community. 

“We want to get experiences from everyone. People of color, African American, Latina, Latinx, women from every spectrum of life we’re interested in and how they have coped,” Wilson said. 

The goal of the research is to decipher a recurring issue and if there is any way to improve the work-life balance of women in the area. 

“This idea of work-life balance is not a new issue that women and men really are dealing with. These are a lot of family issues that affect everyone,” Wilson said. “We want to see how the workplace culture has changed over time. What still needs to be dealt with and then what improvements have we seen in where?”

Interviews will be filmed on the second floor of the museum and last around 60 minutes. 

“We have one of our two researchers who will ask you a variety of questions, and you answer them based on what your experiences have been,” Wilson said. 

The museum will also hold workshops to teach women how to conduct research. 

“We are going to be holding some workshops to teach women and girls how to conduct oral histories, and to get them together to discuss their experiences,” Wilson said.

The steel museum will have a preliminary program meeting at 6 p.m. on March 16 to share the data uncovered thus far. The museum plans to open an exhibit displaying the research later in the fall. 

For more information about the museum, go to its website, or call (330) 941-1314.