The role of the telegraph operator in the mid-nineteenth century was like that of today’s software programmer/analyst, according to independent scholar Tom Jepsen, who notes that in the “cyberspace” of long ago, male operators were often surprised to learn that the “first-class man” on the other end of the wire was a woman.
Like the computer, the telegraph caused a technological revolution. The telegraph soon worked synergistically with the era’s other mass-scale technology, the railroad, to share facilities as well as provide communications to help trains run on time.
The strategic nature of the telegraph in the Civil War opened opportunities for women, but tension arose as men began to return from military service. However, women telegraphers did not affect male employment or wage levels. Women kept their jobs after the war with support from industry—Western Union in particular—and because they defended and justified their role.
“Although women were predominantly employed in lower-paying positions and in rural offices, women who persisted and made a career of the profession could work up to managerial or senior technical positions that, except for wage discrimination, were identical to those of their male counterparts,” writes Jepsen. “Telegraphy as an occupation became gendered, in the sense that we understand today, only after the introduction of the teletype and the creation of a separate role for women teletype operators.”
My Sisters Telegraphic is a fresh introduction to this pivotal communications technology and its unsung women workers, long neglected by labor and social historians.
Thomas C. Jepsen, author of numerous articles on the history of telecommunications technology, is a telecommunications systems architect in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. More info →
Save 20% ($26.36)
Save 20% ($44)
US and Canada only
Availability and price vary according to vendor.
Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center
A Most Promising Weed examines the work experience, living conditions, and social relations of thousands of African men, women, and children on European-owned tobacco farms in colonial Zimbabwe from 1890 to 1945. Steven C. Rubert provides evidence that Africans were not passive in their responses to the penetration of European capitalism into Zimbabwe but, on the contrary, helped to shape both the work and living conditions they encountered as they entered wage employment.Beginning
The Bolshevik seizure of power in 1917 and the ensuing communist regime have often been portrayed as a man’s revolution, with women as bystanders or even victims. Midwives of the Revolution examines the powerful contribution made by women to the overthrow of tsarism in 1917 and their importance in the formative years of communism in Russia.Focusing
The Gunnysack Castle is principally the story of Vince Woods, and Anglicized Portuguese who rises from the ashes of his childhood dreams to become one of San Oriel’s wealthiest and most powerful citizens. A man of strong lusts and inflexible will, he attempts to manipulate the members of his family just as he does everyone else in the town who comes under his influence. The dynasty he longs to found ends in bitterness with his own demise.Concurrent
Sign up to be notified when new Gender Studies titles come out.
We will only use your email address to notify you of new titles in the subject area(s) you follow. We will never share your information with third parties.