Joe Biden's wife is a teacher and was working even when she was the second lady. She taught at a college in Northern Virginia back then.
President-elect Joe Biden's wife, Dr. Jill Biden, might become the only First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) to continue her paid work outside the White House. If she does continue to work as an educator, she will be changing a 231 years-old history.
Dr. Biden, 69, is a college professor of English whose doctorate is in education. She had been teaching at a community college in Northern Virginia even when Joe was the vice president for eight years and hopes to continue doing so even after her husband takes office.
"I would love to. If we get to the White House, I'm gonna continue to teach," Dr. Biden, a mother and grandmother, told CBS News in August. "It's important, and I want people to value teachers and know their contributions, and lift up the profession."
Now that Joe has been elected, her team has not confirmed her plans about teaching while also being the first lady. She had taken time off from her job to help her husband campaign around the country. "Dr. Biden is enormously grateful to the country for electing her husband and Sen. Harris. Joe Biden will be a president for all Americans. She is spending time with her children and grandchildren in Wilmington, Delaware," Michael La Rosa, a spokesperson for Dr. Biden said, according to Good Morning America. "Dr. Biden is focused on building her team and developing her priorities focused on education, military families and veterans, and cancer."
The future first lady had a deep friendship with former first lady Michelle Obama and would have seen what the role entails. She would be better prepared than those who were pushed into that role without prior experience. However, while working women are part of America, a working first lady is unheard of.
Kate Andersen Brower, the author of several books on first ladies and the White House, told Good Morning America, "It is unusual for a second lady to work but unprecedented for a first lady. I know from talking to the campaign that there is an understanding that she doesn’t know if she can balance both teaching and being first lady quite yet, but there is a sense of this is her hope and this is what she wants to do because she loves teaching, and it's the career that she's carved out for herself that is unique and different from her husband's."
Another expert on the history of first ladies, Katherine Jellison told USA Today, "She will really be bringing the role of first lady into the 21st century." "Americans have historically wanted their first ladies to be in the White House and at the president's side whenever possible," she added. Jellison added that it might be time for Americans to become more accepting of a first lady who is a working professional.
During the campaign trail, she was seen grading papers but before the 2020 election, she took a term off. "This semester I took off. I just took a leave of absence," Dr. Biden told CNN.
Before an event, she assured a nervous student who was about to go on stage for the first time and was going to introduce her. "That was the first time she had spoken publicly, and she was frightened, she was scared. And I know that feeling, because that's how I used to be. When you see me you think 'Oh, she can get out there and speak,' but I didn't always feel that way. And so I knew what she was feeling," said she. "That's what I've learned from body language, and as a teacher, that's a really important part of my profession," she said. "That I can read my classroom and see who's sort of all tight and into themselves, and who's open to what I'm teaching. Body language is important," she added.
She takes her work seriously and says that it's not just something she does but who she is. If she continues to work, it will be a beacon for all the working women in the country who want their spouse to see their jobs as just as important. Even during the campaign trail, she saw herself as a partner for her husband.
"Joe and I've been married for 42 years. This is how we've always done things. I've campaigned in every election," she told CNN. "I go one way, he goes the other way, and so we can cover more ground and talk to more people." They have had each others' backs for a long time. "He's always supported my career. And this is a critical time for me to support him because, you know, I want change," she said.