PREFACE
In the fall of 1973, I became disillusioned with a job in pub-
lishing that I had thought would provide an opportunity for
me to express my creativity and advance my career. Instead, I
found myself in a status-inflated, low-paying clerical job that brought lit-
tle recognition and no respect. My decision to leave was sealed after
my boss was insensitive enough to send me to cash her paycheck, which
was more than twice the amount of mine. A few days after this incident,
I visited my old school (Hunter College) where I discovered that a few
days earlier one of my classmates also had visited—dressed in jeans,
construction boots, and a toolbelt. She worked at the telephone company,
repairing telephones. I thought that a job like hers would be a good one to
have. I do not recall exactly what I told the New York Telephone Company
personnel people, but I am sure that I said I wanted a job where I would
not have to type. After a series of tests, I was o√ered a job as a ‘‘switch-
man.’’ Although I had no idea of what ‘‘switchmen’’ did, I immediately
accepted the o√er based on the salary, which was significantly higher than
what my publishing job paid. And typing was not required.
I had been a student/community activist, marched in countless dem-
onstrations, participated in boycotts, strikes, and other job actions in dif-
ferent workplaces, and certainly considered myself a feminist. However, I
was not making an overt political statement when I accepted this job o√er.
I did not realize that I was one of the first hundred or so women to enter
the male-dominated field of telephone switching in New York City. At the
time, I was conscious of my own resistance to ‘‘women’s work,’’ and I was
vaguely aware of the at&t case that had opened male-dominated work to
women. But I certainly had not specifically connected my employment
with the eeoc/at&t litigation. Aside from women’s general struggle for
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