National Affairs: A Dozen Who Made a Difference

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"I've never been one to keep quiet when I don't like something," says Chicago's Addie Wyatt, 51, who has built a highly successful labor-union career by speaking out effectively against sexual and racial discrimination in hiring, promotion and pay.

She started at 17, putting lids on cans of stew at Armour and Co., where she joined the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen. In 1954 she became the first woman president of a packinghouse local; later she was appointed one of the meat cutters' five international representatives, and in 1974 director of its new Women's Department. The same year she was elected vice president of the new Coalition of Labor Union Women. She has persuaded the industry to promote women to more demanding, previously "male" jobs and convinced many skeptical women that they could perform them. Now, notes Wyatt, "there are women beefluggers, journeymen butchers, hamboners and forklift operators, and almost all of them say that their new jobs are easier than what they had been doing and pay a lot more."

Wyatt, the mother of two, says she never really wanted to take a job. "Like most women, I wanted to be a homemaker, but I had to realize that if I didn't work, there wouldn't be a home to make." Today she contributes more than $20,000 a year to the home she makes with her husband Claude, pastor of the Vernon Park Church of God, where she also finds time to give an occasional Sunday sermon, often taking her text from Proverbs 31:13, in praise of the woman who "works with willing hands."

KATHLEEN BYERLY: Confident Commander

"There will be a seagoing woman admiral in the U.S. Navy in the not too distant future," predicts Lieut. Commander Kathleen Byerly—and none of her fellow (or sister) officers would be surprised if Byerly herself reaches that rank. At 31 she is a crisply confident Navy executive, the first woman ever promoted to serve as flag secretary and aide to an admiral, Rear Admiral Allen Hill. In the past, WAVE officers did work on staffs of admirals, but had far less authority than Byerly. She heads the admiral's staff and handles all liaison between his headquarters and the nine Pacific training commands. Her husband Kellie is also a lieutenant commander. When he once considered resigning and returning to the farm on which he was raised, she vetoed the idea. "I let him know that there was no way I was going back to any farm."

Byerly joined up after graduating in 1966 from Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia. She attributes much of her determination to keep on moving, preferably up, to her childhood as an "Army brat—my family was stationed all over the world and loved it." She also loved the intense atmosphere of Washington when she and Kellie were stationed there and hopes for a future assignment in the capital—"a high-pressure post, which we both enjoy." What Kathleen Byerly does not relish is the thought of combat, but she adds, "I don't know any man who does either, and I would not like to deny any woman the opportunity to do anything she is capable of doing, including firing a gun."

CAROL SUTTON: Soft-Shoe Editor

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