Each month we’ll feature a Q&A with one of the commissioners of the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. May’s feature: Representative Sharon Negele
Q: As author of House Enrolled Act 1394, which established the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, why is it important for the state to mark the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage?
A: Out of respect for the hardworking and determined Americans who never gave up until the passage of the 19th amendment. It is important to remind all citizens of the significance of this incredible milestone in our nation’s history and the impact it has had on countless lives.
Q: How would you encourage Hoosiers from all walks of life to promote and celebrate this important milestone in your state and nation’s history?
A: There are of course the famous names associated with the suffrage movement, but there are also many who worked at this passage through local grassroots movements in Indiana. This took an incredible local and collective effort, and my hope is that citizens will explore their local history on what occurred in their communities. These local stories will help connect us to our history and most importantly, to our republic.
Q: Who is a woman who has inspired you in your life and/or career?
A: Early in my career working for an offshore drilling company, there was Carla Bertness. I was fresh out of college and green. She really showed me how you could advance in a very male-dominated industry and still have a family. Another person would be Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Regardless of whether you align with her politics, many would agree that she commanded tremendous respect throughout the world and really led the way for many women on the world stage.
Q: How has your own path exemplified the furtherance of women’s rights?
A: “Lead by example” has always been my mantra, and sometimes you just have to get uncomfortable, push yourself beyond what’s easy and persevere. I learned early on in my finance career that I had two choices: earn my MBA and advance in my career or accept where I landed. There were some naysayers implying that I was wasting my time and would never finish, especially if I was going to have a family. Between working full-time, starting our family and attending school part-time, I had to make many sacrifices. It took me 4 ½ years, but I walked across that graduation stage with our 2-year-old yelling, “MOMMY!” I knew then that I could achieve anything. Advancing in a male-dominated, oil-drilling world, becoming an entrepreneur and a State Representative– all while raising my family– has given me a great sense of accomplishment. I would like to think that my contribution has been leading by example and showing other women that with hard work and perseverance, you can accomplish anything. I am so grateful to the women who paved the way for me.