Real Women of “North Country”

AAUW CHAPTER AND NWHM HONOR THE REAL WOMEN OF “NORTH COUNTRY”

In April 2006, the Hibbing, Minnesota, chapter of the American Association of University Women held a ceremony honoring the women workers at Eveleth Mines who filed the first class-action sexual harassment lawsuit. Their story became the basis for the 2005 movie North Country. NWHM President Susan Jollie wrote a letter commending their efforts and the letter was read at the ceremony and each woman received a copy. Each woman was presented with a NWHM button with the quote, ” Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History.”

BACKGROUND ON THE CLASS ACTION SUIT BROUGHT AGAINST EVELETH MINES

(Provided by Stephanie Carlson of the AAUW Chapter in Hibbing, Minnesota)

Northern Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range is home to the largest Iron ore deposit in the world.  Since red iron ore was discovered in 1890 by the Merritt brothers, men have toiled in the iron mines, that is until 1974 when 9 of the country’s largest steel companies signed a consent decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Labor Department requiring the industry’s mines to provide 20% of its new jobs to women and minorities.  And in 1975 four women walked into the Eveleth Mines Forbes Fairlane Plant for the first time.  Among these women was a 27-year-old single mother named Lois Jenson. Read more….

Three of the honorees with two AAUW branch staff at the

“Women in North Country, Their Story and Their Legacy” event:

L-R: Marcy Steele, Jan Carey (AAUW Branch President), Audrey Daniels,

Diane Hodge and Stephanie Carlson (AAUW Branch Public Policy Chair)

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Carlson

SUSAN JOLLIE’S LETTER TO THE EVELETH MILL WOMEN ON BEHALF OF THE NWHM

The National Women’s History Museum is pleased to join with the Hibbing, Minnesota, branch of the American Association of University Women in honoring Lois Jenson and her fellow plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit that established important legal precedents on sexual harassment in the workplace. These courageous women initially had very modest goals, but their struggle ultimately improved the working conditions of women nationwide. The women who banded together to challenge the hostile environment at the Eveleth Mines are part of a long and proud tradition of women who have made America a better place to live. Read more…

11 Responses to “Real Women of “North Country””

  1. james palm says:

    I watched the movie and it moved me to seek the true nature of this history making feat. Women all over the world have a right to employment,as men. It’s very unfortunate that these practices still exist no matter how subtle they may be. Men should recognize this was once the hell their mothers experienced in theirs lives, as well as in life today!

  2. erika says:

    This is the greatest movie I have ever watched. I’ve seen it about 15 times, and could watch it again and again. The hell these women had to go thru is unspeakable. I felt their every emotion through out the movie. I just want to thank them for standing up for what is right and never giving up no matter how hard it was. you’ve helped create something for working women everywhere. I was once a single mom working in a steel factory to feed my kids. I honestly don’t know if I could have made it under those. conditions….but things were different by then and I feel blessed that I didn’t have too. Thank you ladies :)

  3. Everything is very open with a clear explanation of the challenges.It was really informative. Your website is very useful. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Ericka Smith says:

    Although this is not a new movie, I had never heard of the story before, but a few days I was intrigued to watch because of the all star cast. I had always been told that this type of difference is/was made between men and women in the workplace, but I had never experienced this first hand. I mean I was not totally blind, but I didn’t know that women could be taunted and physically assaulted at work, just for being a woman. I was most moved during the scene with the union meeting where her dad realized he needed to stand up and the words he spoke brought me to tears.
    I thank God that these sort of things are being brought out every single day to expose the ugly side of sexism. I thank the women who stood up as their courage is the reason I have the protection of this law today. I realize there are some that may abuse or use this liberty and take this for granted. However, this story proved that this law is needed. Again, thank you for following your conscious and standing up for all women every where.

  5. Ericka Smith says:

    Although this is not a new movie, I had never heard of the story before, but a few days ago I was intrigued to watch because of the all star cast. I had always been told that this type of difference is/was made between men and women in the workplace, but I had never experienced this first hand. I mean I was not totally blind, but I didn’t know that women could be taunted and physically assaulted at work, just for being a woman. I was most moved during the scene with the union meeting where her dad realized he needed to stand up and the words he spoke brought me to tears.
    I thank God that these sort of things are being brought out every single day to expose the ugly side of sexism. I thank the women who stood up as their courage is the reason I have the protection of this law today. I realize there are some that may abuse or use this liberty and take this for granted. However, this story proved that this law is needed. Again, thank you for following your conscious and standing up for all women every where.

  6. Shelby moore says:

    My mother is a union electrician and I’ve watched her come home after working 16 hrs ,exhausted, and just go to her room and cry because of the harassment and disrespect she gets on some jobs. She doesn’t blame the union since it is a few rotten apples who set the tone for the jobs. I’ve never heard her complain and she says if you do it’ll only get worse. She just goes to work, does her job and tries to keep smiling. I watched this movie with her and saw the tears in her eyes during certain scenes….I know I speak for her when I say thanks to those brave women in North Country who persevered and won!!! It is truly up to the employee to make sure this doesn’t happen.

  7. NWHM says:

    Shelby,

    Thank you so much for your comment and the story about your mother. We are appreciative for the brave women (and men) who have fought for so much in our country.

  8. Darla says:

    This movie moved me so much, because I was raised in a family who view women much as the men in the mine did. The men in our family, and even my grandmother perpetuated this treatment of women as objects. I read the book, and it helped me to realize that it wasn’t only my cousin and I, our mothers and all of our aunts that have married into our family who were victimized by the type of thinking that was common to that area of the country. My family also happens to be from an area similar to the Iron Range.

  9. Lynne S. says:

    After watching the movie, I quickly went to the computer to find out more . I also work in a profession of mostly men and I am saddened by what these women had to endure. The men I work with (although im sure they sometimes don’t like it ) others respect me . I cant imagine it any other way . I am truly thankful for their courage .
    If not in currency you have won in more important ways !
    For that I personally thank you!

  10. Thankful ! says:

    A huge Thank You to all the women who fought to have their voice’s heard in this matter!! To all of us keeping our heads held high

  11. David Mock says:

    I dont understand why this happened ? Maybe i was raised in a different time and place, but still W.T.F ? I work in a cleaning plant (for coal) and we have women jn our shop, i cannot even fathom saying or doing any of these things to them. Its not like they are there because they love it, its WORK !!! Those men were assholes.

Leave a Reply