Elaine Howard has been living in Silver City for 20 years. Her family located here after her husband retired from the military. Howard became a teacher at the Child Development Center of Western New Mexico University 13 years ago. She went from being a teacher to a teacher supervisor at the Growing Tree facility. Howard currently is the Lab Site Program Administrator for the Early Childhood Programs.
The Mustang Newspaper staff interviewed Elaine Howard, an early childhood educator to learn about her views on female leaders and their roles throughout history.
Q: Who is the most influential woman, you know? How does she inspire you?
A: Shannon Rivera is one of the most influential women in this profession. She had big great ideas, and she didn’t take no for an answer. I am not afraid to ask questions, but I don’t have those big thinking ideas, so it was a challenge for me. Watching her inspired me to do better. I think Eleanor Roosevelt was the person that I most looked up to in history. She was a strong woman and went about business, regardless of whether she was a woman or not. In her time, women couldn’t do anything, and she did not care. She was going to do it anyway, so she probably was one of my historical figures.
Q: As a woman, what are the challenges you believe remain in today’s society?
A: Women will never be respected for the job that they do. What happened hundreds of years ago is still happening today, despite all the progress that women have made like to vote or to break the glass ceiling to be CEOs for companies. In the presidential race, they had the debates, and she is not even respected enough to answer a question. They cut her off before she is also able to answer. She is a smart, talented, and intelligent woman. I don’t subscribe to her beliefs all at the same time, but she should be acknowledged as equal to all the men. I think that it is always going to be a significant statement that women are still going to be less for whatever the reason is.
Q: Why do you think it is important to have a month to honor women?
A: There are a lot of women that have done many things! I just watched the movie about Harriet Tubman, and I knew that she was important in history for the civil rights movement, for slaves, and to do her parts, but I did not realize to the extent that she went to do all that. It was inspiring to watch the movie about her. I think we should be learning more about these individual women in history, not just Eleanor Roosevelt because she was the first lady or Michelle Obama because she was the first lady. We should be learning about all women and all races in all ways.
Q: As a woman, yourself, how does it feel to be successful here at WNMU?
A: I see myself as a successful woman. I think managing 50 people is a lot. There are always challenges to what you’re doing, but the most I have celebrated here at Western is the excellent relationships I have made with people around campus. To be successful, you have to make those connections, and I’ve been successful in making those connections so that when you reach out to me, and you need help, I can provide that for you. You can’t do it all by yourself here. If it is a campus-wide problem, you have to build relationships with people to build successful structures every single day.
Q: Do you think women have equal rights to men today?
A: Sure! We have the right to go after the same job as men do. Do we get the job, though? Do you get the same respect? No, I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think that’s going to change. I don’t know what it’s going to take to change because it doesn’t feel like things are moving forward positively. Some of the laws that have been overturned in the last four years are making it go a little bit backward. I don’t know if it’s ever going to change.
Q: Would you like to add any comments to honor women for Women’s History Month?
A: There are a lot of women in history that need to be honored and celebrated. It’s great to find one and learn about her achievements. I was learning a little bit about a warrior woman who was an Irish Queen and went to England to fight the Romans, but she did not survive. During the battle, she led all of the people for the right purpose. I thought, “Wow! I never heard about this person in history!” I believe there are tons of women, right in our building, that could be celebrated. If you think about it, we have people here who have started really hard challenging lives as really young children without a voice, that have grown into teens and young adults without a voice, that have picked up their bootstraps in their hands and gone to college. They put themselves in places where they can do better. To me that is a hero. Those are people who do great things for positive everyday things.