Today marks the 70th anniversary of the publishing of Norman Rockwell’s iconic “Rosie the Riveter” painting on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post. Rosie became a symbol for a movement as the number of working American women nearly doubled in the short time between 1940 and 1944.
Today, working American women look to examples of real-life Rosies as models of success in the workplace. At Minute Mentoring®, we strive to be a forum for young professional women to interact with their accomplished female counterparts and learn their top tips for success. With both in-person sessions and a growing number of online opportunities, we try offer many young women access to insights from today’s Rosies.
So, what better way to celebrate Rosie’s anniversary than with a Q&A with former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao? She is unquestionably a role model for working women and we are grateful that she took the time to share her experiences with us.
Elaine L. Chao, the 24th U. S. Secretary of Labor who served from 2001-2009, is the first American woman of Asian descent to be appointed to a President’s Cabinet in our nation’s history. She is also the longest tenured Secretary of Labor since World War II.
An immigrant who arrived in America at the age of eight speaking no English, Secretary Chao’s experience transitioning to a new country has motivated her to devote most of her professional life to ensuring that all people have the opportunity to build better lives.
Secretary Chao has a distinguished career in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. As the first Secretary of Labor in the 21st Century, she focused on increasing the competitiveness of America’s workforce in a global economy and achieved record results in workplace safety and health.
Prior to the Department of Labor, Secretary Chao was President and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America, where she restored public trust and confidence in one of our nation’s premier institutions of private charitable giving after it had been tarnished by financial mismanagement and abuse. As director of the Peace Corps, she established the first programs in the Baltic nations and the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. Her government service also includes serving as Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission. She has also worked in the private sector as Vice President of Syndications at BankAmerica Capital Markets Group and Citicorp.
Secretary Chao earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School and an economics degree from Mount Holyoke College. Honored for her extensive record of accomplishments and public service, she is the recipient of 34 honorary doctorate degrees.
A popular speaker on jobs, the economy, and U. S. competitiveness, Secretary Chao is a Distinguished Fellow in at the Heritage Foundation. She currently serves on a number of nonprofit and corporate boards including News Corp; Wells Fargo; Dole Food Company; Harvard Business School Board of Global Advisors; Harvard Business School Board of Dean’s Advisors. She is married to the Republican Leader of the United States Senate Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Her website is: www.ElaineLChao.com.