Interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air by Terry Gross, one of the writing talents behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and other popular shows, Shonda Rhimes spoke about her mother. Turns out her mother was the mother of six children and got her PhD (or two) when she was bit older — as did Billie. Billie’s story veers off in the “more difficult” direction, since she was a single Mom and operating in an education setting less tolerant of female graduate students, but the similarity is noteworthy.
From Rhimes’ Wikipedia page: “Her mother attended college while raising six children and earned a PhD in educational administration.” Ms. Rhimes said she and her mother (name? Couldn’t find it easily) graduated around the same time and this was a matter of some pride for the younger woman.
For Billie Underwood, that choice was economic more than anything else, but it certainly took on elements of women’s rights and fairness when her dissertation work attracted more than the typical share of abuse from some of the faculty members at the University of Arizona. As I remind myself often, in her thirties, she did not even have a driver’s license — and was happily immersed in the business of raising six children in the more conventional fifties. I’m not sure it was a decision I could have made in her flats.