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Among Equals: A Memoir- The Rise of IBM’s First Woman Corporate Vice President

by Ruth Leach Amonette

“Feeling almost paralyzed with excitement, my parents and I hurried into the grand ballroom at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. On that chilly evening, February 9, 1946, five hundred selected guests including President Harry Truman, members of his cabinet, plus assorted dignitaries and foreign diplomats, had assembled to honor the 11 recipients of that year’s Women’s National Press Club achievement awards—and I was one of the women being honored!

“We sat at the head table with President Truman and several members of his cabinet. As I settled into my designated spot on the dais, my seatmate, Secretary of Labor, the honorable L.B. Schwellenbach, turned to me and asked, ‘Are you somebody’s secretary?’

“At 29 years old, I must have looked like a kid to him compared with my fellow honorees, all of whom were a great deal older. I glared at him and merely nodded my head, too annoyed to answer. He didn’t deserve a response anyway. Turning his back on this taciturn ‘hireling’ he began chatting with the lady on his left and never said another word to me until after the president presented my award and told the audience what I had achieved during the war years. Then Mr. Schwellenbach wanted my undivided attention—he didn’t get it.”