Former operators, black and white, have stated that the Bell Sys-
tem chose young white (in some places Roman Catholic) women
when its workforce was segregated, and it chose Southern black
women (sometimes Caribbean women) when it first decided to integrate,
because these groups of women were considered more obedient as a
result of their cultural indoctrinations.∞ As these pages have shown, nei-
ther group of women was as malleable as the companies wanted. Even
when tsps and other computerized equipment forced women to work at
inhuman speeds, most of them found ways to cope and resist without
lapsing into dependency on drugs or other abnormal behavior. Bereft of
adequate union leadership and direction to resist the introduction of new
technologies and the concomitant speedups, black women adopted atti-
tudes and techniques of resistance similar to those of nineteenth-century
women who ‘‘threw up’’ the annunciators.
For example, Geneva Tucker, after more than twenty years with the
New York Telephone Company, expressed the desire to just get out and go
back down South to live. She did not expect to advance any further, and
she made no requests for an upgrade to craft work. Her plan to escape
was her way of coping. She typified many of the women in the clerical
Many other women resisted passively by refusing to take the initiative
or to correct inaccuracies in their supervisors’ instructions. With the new
technology assigning tasks, women assumed the attitude that they would
do only what they were assigned and nothing more. After all, they be-
lieved that taking the initiative and trying to do a good job could possibly
end in punishment. Winifred King best exemplified this attitude. Bitter
over poor training, racism/sexism, and the lack of opportunities for ad-
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