By Brooke Greene
Staff writer

Since 1987, the month of March has been dedicated to women to honor their embarkment of the oppression inflicted on women all over the world. Women have always been seen as the inferior sex, not as strong, not as smart, not as respectful, which is not the case.

United as a front, women have been able to combat this unnecessary stereotype, slowly but surely gaining more and more respect and worth in the workforce, politics, sports, and so much more. Shelly Ellis is an excellent example of a strong woman on Hutchinson Community College’s campus who has held many titles and walks with a smile and her head held high.

Q: What position do you hold at HutchCC and how did you get there?

A: My title is Faculty Secretary, Department II. However, my duties have evolved over the five years that I’ve worked here, and I also provide support to out Grant Coordinator and other staff in LH100.

How did I get here? I think my personality/nature is to be of service. I like to help people. My jobs have included records maintenance clerk, bank teller, stay-at-home mom, paraprofessional in a grade school, and secretary.

Q: What other positions have you held with your head high as a woman?

A: When I was 20 I began working at (Strataca) UV&S 650 feet underground, outnumbered by male coworkers probably 3 to 1. I learned to drive a forklift, became the backup weekend courier driver, and many other tasks that had been allotted to men previously.

OK, so that was probably due to the 3 to 1 ratio, but I still held my head high. For a period of time, my supervisor was Peggy Nikkel. She is an EMS Lab Assistant for HutchCC, and she helped to ensure that – if I worked hard – I was treated as fairly as my male coworkers. I can honestly say she is pretty inspiring!

Q: How do you feel the view of women stands at HutchCC?

A: I personally have never felt oppressed based on my gender, and the climate of HutchCC towards women is unbiased. I really don’t feel that it plays a role whatsoever. We have women in many of the various levels of position. Dr. (Cindy) Hoss and Julie Blanton are both Vice President’s. Both men and women sit on our Board of Trustees, etc.

Q: Are there any other strong women in your life that inspire you?

A: To name names, the list would be too long. I am inspired by the women who are stay-at-home moms raising their children with love. I am inspired by the women who return to school after raising their family. I am inspired by the single women who don’t let gender roles guide their decisions. I am inspired by the everyday woman who does extraordinary things that are often left unrecognized.

Q: What is your opinion on the oppression of women and the growth of powerful women since?

A: A woman’s place is wherever she wants it to be. But she had better be prepared to do the work for it, just as anyone. I don’t think we should focus on our gender any more than we should focus on our height, our weight, or anything else that has no bearing on our abilities to perform the job we work for. Know your strengths, accept your weaknesses, and be willing to do the work required to do that job you want. I’m not saying gender bias doesn’t exist, I’m just saying that I haven’t focused on that in my world.

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