Veteran Feminists of America


National Association of Women Business Owners

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Federally Employed Women
In 1968 I became a founding member of Federally Employed Women (FEW)

National Women's Party
I served on the board of several organizations: Federation of Organizations for Professional Women; National Association of Women Business Owners; National Council of Career Women; National Woman's Party; VP of the Women's Institute and Managing Editor, Women's Institute Press.

Women's Institute


October 2010


Young Daisy Fields in her office - 1978 to 1985
"Days, nights, weekends where I spent my time writing newsletters, training programs , and running my business.

Daisy Fields, Advocate For Equal Rights for Business Women, Author of A Woman's Guide to Moving Up in Business and Government. Founder/President of a Human Resource Company Specializing in Women's Career issues.

The first dozen years of my life were on a roller coaster. I was born in 1915 in Brooklyn, NY, and by the time I was six we'd moved to Warren, Ohio; then four years later to Goldsboro, N.C., and two years after that back to New York. With the help of family, my parents bought a house in the suburbs of Long Island, our home until I was 21.

Shortly after my thirteenth birthday I was looking forward to high school, but my parents, living on a shoestring, worried about having enough money for my carfare to school. It was 20¢ a day.

One day I had an inspiration. I had a neighbor who worked in the Five and Ten Cent store. I pinned my long hair up in a bun, daintily applied some lipstick borrowed from my mother's dressing table, dressed up in what I believed to be grown-up looking clothes and went to the store to ask for a Saturday job. The manager said he could use some help but I would have to get my working papers. He suggested I get them and come back next week.

Having no idea what working papers were I asked my cousin, five years my senior, what they were and how to get them. He insisted I tell him why I needed to know. I told. He laughed and said you had to be 16 to get working papers.

Disappointed but not discouraged, I went to the store the following week and explained that too much school work kept me from getting the papers. He shrugged his shoulders and said I could start working right now and to bring the papers next week. He put me on the cosmetics counter, showed me how to work the cash registers and left me on my own.

I never got the working papers. I worked in that store every Saturday until I graduated from high school, earning two dollars a day for a 10-hour day. It was exactly what I needed for transportation to school.

Funds for college tuition were out of the question; my father had had a stroke and was incapacitated for months. So off I went to Macy's in Manhattan to apply for a sales clerk job. After a long wait in the broiling sun on a scorching hot day in June I was among the block-long line of eager high school grads in need of work. After hours of waiting I was hired. Earning $15 a week enabled me to attend college at night and help feed my family.

Living on Long Island it was an hour's subway trip to my job at Macy's, then another short trip uptown to Hunter College. Classes ended about 9:30 P.M. and it took me another hour to get home. I would do some homework on the way, but I fell asleep for the last half hour, yet instinctively awoke when the train stopped at my station. The four block walk to my house got me fully awake.

This was the beginning of my adult life.

About a year or so later my long-time boy friend graduated from Columbia University with a Master's in Psychology. He applied for a government job, was hired, and took off for DC and urged me to join him. So in 1936 at age 21 I married and moved to Washington. For the next 30 plus years it was a journey through the federal government in progressively more responsible positions for both of us.

In 1942 his job was transferred to Norfolk, VA. I followed, transferring to a job with the Army Air Force (as it was known then) as civilian personnel officer. As WWll raged on my husband applied for a commission in the Navy. Before we realized it he was off to war on a destroyer in the Pacific. I remained in Norfolk until 1945 when the war was winding down in the area my facility serviced. It was time to make another move.

With my husband at sea I decided to try to get a job as close to NY and family as possible. I wound up in Philadelphia in a field office of the Dept of Agriculture as assistant personnel officer.

About a year later the war was over and my husband was discharged from the Navy. He was offered an opportunity to take over management of a mining venture, which meant a move to Nevada. We were intrigued by the project, so off to Nevada we went. In less than a year out there in the desert the mining venture failed because of long-term strikes at smelters. So it was back to Washington where my husband reclaimed his government job.

That was 11 years after we married. All our friends were married with children. We decided to join them and in 1947 we welcomed an adorable baby girl. Today that baby girl is a grandmother and for the past 20 years a police detective.

For one whose life had been a whirlwind of activity, being a stay-at-home mom was stressful. My daughter was two years old when I decided to pick up where I left off--back to the pressures of the working world. I loved it. Fortunately my husband was cooperative in tending to our child when my work demanded overtime and travel.

In 1954 I was offered a position as assistant personnel officer with a small federal agency and continued in that position for four years. Then my boss, the personnel director, decided to leave for another job. I was summoned to the agency head's office where I was sure he was going to offer me the director's position. Instead he asked my assistance in recruiting a replacement.

The shocked look on my face prompted him to explain that a division director had to be a man, but it was fine for a woman to be an assistant. He urged me to remain in my present position. I made no promise; I was too surprised and too angry and hurt to respond. I rose from my chair and walked out of his office.

That was my wake-up call. It was 1960 and my initiation into the women's movement.

I returned to my office and promptly started making phone calls to friends and colleagues in the business, seeking a new job. Shortly thereafter I transferred to NASA, the space agency, and spent the next seven years in the most interesting job of my career.

Believing I could do more for the movement as a free agent, I retired from government and founded my own business, Fields Associates, a human resources company specializing in women's career issues.

In 1968 I became a founding member of Federally Employed Women (FEW). In due time I became national president, executive director and for 16 years edited its eight-page monthly newsletter. In 1983 Prentice Hall published my book,
A Woman's Guide to Moving Up in Business and Government.

I served on the board of several organizations: Federation of Organizations for Professional Women; National Association of Women Business Owners; National Council of Career Women; National Woman's Party; VP of the Women's Institute and Managing Editor, Women's Institute Press. In the latter capacity I edited and published
Winds of Change: Korean Women in America by Diana Yu.

All these activities and many others consumed my life for 20 or more years. By age 85, nature made me slow down. Today at 95, I am no longer able to drive, need a four-wheel walker to get around and have to rely on my daughter for transportation once in a while. My husband at 97 has dementia, so I am also a caretaker. After 74 years of marriage it seems the natural thing to do.

But what I haven't forgotten is how exciting those years were, and as I look around now and see women in head positions everywhere I rejoice at all the gains we've made. Where once there were no women in the media, today there are many anchor women, and women heading programs; and though we still don't represent half of the country there are many women in Congress and in Senate, and we now have three Justices of the Supreme Court! There are several women governors and a woman ran for president of the United States, and one day soon, we'll have a female president. Women are everywhere and the challenge of the next generations is to assure that the women who are running our government and representing us are feminists -- as well as the men!

There is still much to do, but we've accomplished so much in such a short time that I can't help but be upbeat about the future .

* Founded in 1968 FEW, Federally Employed Women is a private, non-profit membership organization ...

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