STS331 Lecture Notes #7

STS331 Lecture Notes #7 - 02/18/2008 The exchange was very...

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02/18/2008 The exchange was very unique; remember the diagram of phones hooking up. You could have a community of 50 phones connected to NYC, a city of 500,000 phones. All you needed was one phone for 50 phones, and 10 phones for the 500,000. ***You could build exchanges and expand on the finite network. The exchange did something else that the reading did not talk about as much… Home/work and telephones 1. Telephone disrupted traditional distractions of “home” and “work”/”private” and “public.” (This is a very public instrument in a very private space. You pick up the phone in your house, in your bedroom, and it’s not a public space; in a way, you allow strangers in your bedroom. You could be at home and connect to the NYSE, Tokyo, so you are comfortable in your home, and you also travel into other spaces that are strange.) 2. Telephone increased the role of women in the workforce (this was for the sound of their voice since boys could go through puberty, and it would also sound strange for a boy to sound polite over the phone. There were telegraph carriers, and they were boys since the job was physically demanding: women were confined to the domestic space, and boys were socially allowed to run out in the public sphere since “they can take care of themselves.”) Early telephone operators: Boys who were telegraph operators Their youth—not an issue in telegraph But problematic for telephone: Required operators to speak in professional voice. Young women hired as operators Female voice and style of speech considered well-suited by telephone companies (like Bell Company). (This gave an opportunity for women to be working outside, and every time there was an exchange you needed an operator(s).) Telephone, gender and society Women as telephone operators: difficult to get young women as operators. Considered improper to work outside homes where they come in contact with strange men (very awkward for women and families). Telephone companies promised parents protection for young women from (male) managers. (Joke from India about a girl working at a call center—a call girl since the girl works at the call center.) Telephone and the status of women operators Women operators held ambiguous status in offices: protected from (male) bosses at work, but also in contact with (predatory) male customers. Operators increased numbers of women at work (this is an industry where women entered and increased the numbers rapidly) , but not part of the decision-making process (seen as mere facilitators of men’s work) (secretary roles, etc. It put women at the front and moved them back at the same time) . Women operators given low pay and little status
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STS331 Lecture Notes #7 - 02/18/2008 The exchange was very...

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