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Our Readers Write : Wives' Job Transfers Create Cultural Shock

April 14, 1985

Dick Turpin's column (March 17) about wives' job transfers reminded me of my own bitter experience four years ago. I am a married woman engineer with Hughes Aircraft Co. who was transferred from Canoga Park to the current assignment in El Segundo.

From the start, the hardest part of our move was to convince people that we really meant to move. The executive in my company whose job is to entice us to move, I suspect, really did not believe that he could convince us to move. Only when I showed him our escrow papers for our new home in Manhattan Beach, was he convinced that he should process the moving expenses.

Merrill Lynch Relocation Service Co., which was paid by Hughes to make my transfer easier, was at a loss as what to suggest. The counselor assigned to my case went through the routine of real estate prices, schools and churches, and promised to get back to us after studying our family's combined income and assets.

When I called back after several weeks, I learned that he had retired, and we had to start all over again with another counselor. I believe that the first counselor never believed that we were serious about our move for my job.

This belief on the part of those who are paid to help my job transfer is a persistent one, especially with a conservative business like real estate. If they don't believe they can help us, then the issue of moving women can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

They don't help us, so it becomes harder to move women than men. Then, they will be convinced that it is impossible to move women.

I would like to add another painful aspect of our moving. Just about every paper that needed to be signed by me as a recipient of my company's moving-expense payment was addressed to my husband who is employed by another company.

Every one of these mistakes reminded us that we are at odds with our society's norms and that my husband's masculinity and power are constantly being scrutinized.

As Turpin pointed out, one in every nine transfers of two-career families involves the wife's transfer. I think that it is long overdue that the real estate professionals recognize this trend and play a leading role in the situation.


Manhattan Beach

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