One of my childhood memories is of the red truck belonging to my grandfather, a farmer. Clearly stenciled on its side were the words: “Jack Agress & Sons.” Even though one son, my dad, taught school, and the other son, my uncle, sold cars, that was the way things were during the first half of the 20th century. Father and Sons.
Actually, my grandfather’s real partner was my grandmother, who milked the cows, fed the chickens and collected the eggs, then sold them, along with milk and cream and cheese, as well as vegetables, from their huge garden.
Back then hardly anyone thought of a woman as a bona fide business partner. Nor did fathers take daughters into their businesses. And, also at that time, there were few women in either big business or in the top professions.
For example, Chris Callis, who went to college after her two daughters were in school, became a CPA. After working for a large Baltimore firm for approximately 15 years, she started her own firm in the early 1990s out of her home in Fallston. Her elder daughter, Dawn Callis Snyder, after being certified herself, began working for her mother in 1999.
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Shortly after Chris turned 70, she decided to retire. At the same time, an accounting firm located nearby, run by four women, was looking for a partner to replace one who was leaving. Thus, in 2013, Dawn joined Leavy, Hucik, Shifflett & Snyder, LLC, bringing her and her mother’s clients with her and continuing the tradition of working in a woman-run firm.
In the same way that Chris added daughter Dawn to her business, my friend Cyndy Allen, a vice president and financial adviser for RBC Wealth Management, recently hired her daughter Corinne Patteson, who had majored in math and finance in college, to join her as a financial adviser.
Explains Cyndy, “in an industry dominated by men, I wanted to mentor a woman who would join my practice. After a year’s search and no candidate, I decided to hire Corinne.” So far, the new partnership is working well. Not only do Cyndy and Corinne plan to expand their business, but they want to encourage young women to enter math and science professions.
Furthering the mother/daughter tradition, are my internist Susan Molinaro, whose daughter Maria is a second-year medical student at Johns Hopkins, and my friend Frances Meyer, a gastroenterologist, whose daughter, Alissa Rothman, is also a second-year medical student at Hopkins. Certainly, each young woman was inspired by her mother and, in Alissa’s case, by her father as well; interestingly, however, neither of Alissa’s two brothers has shown an interest in a career in medicine.
On a broader stage, there is Mamie Gummer, eldest daughter of the Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep. As a young child, Mamie starred with her mother in “Heartburn.” After graduating from a top university, majoring in theater, as her mother did, Mamie, in 2007, starred with her mother in “Evening,” playing her mother as a young woman. From there, Mamie Gummer has gone on to play many roles in film, on Broadway, and on TV.
And “the notorious RBG,” that is, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has a daughter, Jane Ginsburg, who is a professor at Columbia Law School. Justice Ginsburg’s granddaughter, Clara Spera, recently graduated from Harvard Law School, and is a law clerk for the Southern District of New York.
Lynne Agress, who teaches in the Odyssey Program of Johns Hopkins, is president of BWB-Business Writing At Its Best Inc. and author of "The Feminine Irony" and "Working With Words in Business and Legal Writing." Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.