Everyone knows about Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. There’s more to her than aviation pioneering. As well as braving mysterious skies, she also confronted early twentieth-century expectations of what a woman ought to be. In celebration of Women’s History Month, here are some life lessons from the extraordinary Amelia Earhart.
|Photo from The Red List|
|Photo from the Phoenix Project|
Be yourself. Like many women, Amelia didn't fit into one simple category. She elbowed her way into the male-dominated aviation world, cutting her hair short and donning a leather jacket. But she also created a clothing line. Yes, a clothing line! In 1934, her clothes debuted in Chicago and New York and later spread throughout the United States. She was photographed in Vogue and was even appointed the Aviation Editor at Cosmopolitan, where she wrote articles encouraging women to learn to fly.
Set an example for other women. Amelia’s mom, Amy Earhart, was the first woman to climb Pike’s Peak. She supported her daughter and ingrained in her a lifetime of believing in oneself. Amelia grew into an image many women came to admire, including Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady at the time. In the spring of 1933, Amelia attended a black tie event at the White House. After dinner on a whim, the two women hopped on a plane in their long dresses, and Amelia flew them from Washington D.C. to Baltimore. Eleanor also obtained a students’ permit to fly.
|Amelia and her mother. Photo from the Globe and Mail|
Just do it! Like the impromptu White House flight, Amelia took a lot of risks. She founded the first organization for women aviators, helped promote commercial airlines, wrote a couple books, and much more. Though it seems like she accomplished more than most of us can, this simply isn't true. She actively pursued her goals and ideas, without a fear of failure.
There is no straight path. It seems like behind every successful person, there’s a story of how they just “knew” they would be _____. This wasn't the case for Amelia. When she saw an airplane for the first time at the Iowa State Fair in the early 1900s, she wasn't impressed. It took her more than a decade after that to find her calling. She wore many hats before then, including being a tutor, telephone operator, and social worker before trying out her favorite: the bomber hat.
|Amelia and George. Photo from the Wall Street Journal|
Don’t compromise. Amelia wasn't very mesmerized by marriage either at first. It took George Putnam six proposals to tie the knot with Amelia. She wrote about her hesitancy in a letter to George. She wished for a certain level of independence and equality; particularly, she did not want to give up on her work, which in 1931, was fairly uncommon. George accepted her requests, which also included keeping her maiden name, an act that is rare even today.