‘Maiden, whom we never see’ : cultural representations of the ‘lady telephonist’ in Britain, c.1880-1930, and institutional responses

Glew, Helen 2020. ‘Maiden, whom we never see’ : cultural representations of the ‘lady telephonist’ in Britain, c.1880-1930, and institutional responses. Information & Culture: A Journal of History. 55 (1), pp. 30-50. https://doi.org/10.7560/IC55103

Title ‘Maiden, whom we never see’ : cultural representations of the ‘lady telephonist’ in Britain, c.1880-1930, and institutional responses
TypeJournal article
AuthorsGlew, Helen
Abstract

This article examines attitudes to the female telephone operator in the British press and a range of literary and cultural sources. Perceptions of female telephonists were rooted in both reactions to the increasingly visible employment of women in white-collar work and uncertain responses to the telephone as a new communication medium. Such perceptions of the female telephonist became stereotyped and static, though there were later some challenges to, and attempts to nuance, these. The General Post Office took over the service and implemented a number of changes, but ultimately the organisation and telephonists themselves had to co-exist with these stereotypes.

Keywordswomen workers
history of telephony
Britain
cultural representations
gender
telephone companies
General Post Office
JournalInformation & Culture: A Journal of History
Journal citation55 (1), pp. 30-50
ISSN2164-8034
Year2020
PublisherUniversity of Texas Press
Accepted author manuscript
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.7560/IC55103
Web address (URL)https://muse.jhu.edu/article/749004
Publication dates
Published20 Feb 2020

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