by Tamara Mitchell, Brookings, Oregon September 10, 2013
Wendy is an extraordinary woman who has led an extraordinary life. On so many levels I can relate to her experiences. Her trip to Europe after graduating from high school is what I dreamed to do. My mother was restrictive and would not allow me to do this, but Wendy had a mother who allowed her to make her own way and supported this rather wild experience. Our lives do parallel each other as she became an architect for the navy and I was an engineer in the flight simulation and defense industry…we both were women in predominantly male careers. Experiences of sexism required persistence and determination to achieve recognition and advancement through tenacity and excellence. Reading her experiences brought a flood of memories from my own career back to mind. Her battles with an unreasonable husband, coping with a rebellious teenage daughter, frustrations with personal relationships were interwoven with her professional life. Every struggle in her personal and professional life were so real and every victory brings a feeling of satisfaction and knowledge that those of us who were forging these new inroads in male-dominated careers were breaking the trail for women behind us….showing that women do have a very legitimate and valid contribution, and often a viewpoint that has been needed and missing. And above all, Wendy’s drive to bring usability to the forefront in her work environment, the architectural designs she was responsible for, and to her own home redesigns was refreshing. Form should always follow function, but in so many cases, the desires and needs of the people who will be using a space are not taken into account. She obviously cared first about the people she was managing and the people who would use her buildings…and then about how to turn these requirements into a structure that would function smoothly as needed and that would be creative and beautiful visually. And she did it in the environment of the Navy! I truly enjoyed reading this book.