Here is a great profile by Kristin Smith-Ely of Irrigation & Green Industry of Lynda Wightman, who is retiring after her stellar 35-year career with Hunter Industries.
Having entered the workforce in the early 2000s, it’s hard to remember a time when I ever felt I couldn’t aspire to or achieve anything I wanted in my career. Maybe I’ve been fortunate to have had great employers who valued talent over whatever gender someone happens to be. If that’s the case, it wouldn’t have been possible without those women who fought so hard for workplace equality back in the ’60s,’70s and ’80s, proving that they were every bit as smart and capable as men.
How quickly we forget there was a time when women didn’t have it so easy or had to prove themselves a little more than their male counterparts in the same job. While that was the way things were when Lynda Wightman entered the workforce some 50 years ago, she never let the fact that she was a woman stop her from pursuing her dreams of a career in irrigation, even though she was greatly outnumbered by men. She’s proven that women can carve out successful careers for themselves in a predominately male industry, and she has blazed a trail for others to follow.
Those who know Wightman know that she always speaks her mind. That quality has proven beneficial over her long career at irrigation and lighting manufacturer Hunter Industries, San Marcos, California. In those 35 years she’s worn many different hats, been involved in several industry associations and traveled all over the world.
After such a great run, she decided it’s time to retire and focus on her 12-acre property in Missoula, Montana, where she can enjoy the outdoors, take in the mountain views, garden, go fly fishing, work on the barn or just take a stroll.
As her time at Hunter winds down, she looks back on her many accomplishments and the opportunities they’ve afforded others, starting with when she first became interested in the landscape and irrigation industry.
“I was the first woman to go to work for the city of Reno’s Parks and Recreation Department when I was 16,” she says. “That’s when I first got the bug to be in the landscaping, turf and horticulture industry.”
Wightman’s mother worked for the city and told her there were part-time openings, so she decided to find work there as well and was hired thanks to Title IX, which was enacted in 1972 to protect federally funded programs against sex discrimination.
She’ll never forget her first day on the job. “Here I was, this 16-year-old spunky little blonde bouncing in with my backpack, saying ‘hi’ to everybody.” Her friendliness was not returned. “All of a sudden I realized that nobody there knew I’d gotten hired. They were all about 69 to 75 years old, just waiting to retire. They all picked up their playing cards and their cigarettes and went over to the other side of the room.”
Read the rest of this great profile of Lynda here