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Mon Feb 4, 2013, 04:29 PM

The Internal Memo That Allowed IBM's Female Employees to Get Married

In 1946, Eleanor Kolchin's father came home with the news that IBM was hiring mathematicians Kolchin was a math major and had already sent out application for a math Master's degree, in the hopes that she might someday become a teacher. She decided to send IBM a letter as well, and pretty soon she had her first full-time job.

Kolchin, who is now 86, recently recalled those early days of the computing industry in a fascinating interview with the Huffington Post's Bianca Bosker. Women, in those days, were seen as temporary hires, holding a spot for a man, which she would relinquish if she got married. Kolchin herself got married, but did so "on the sly."


The "law" Kolchin refers to is not so much a law but a company policy -- one that IBM rescinded in 1951 with IBM LETTER #3930, which Sociological Images got a hold of in 2010. "Effective immediately and until further notice," the memo read, "1. A female employee will not be required to resign from the company upon marriage." And, it continued, "2. The Company will consider for employment a married female."


http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/02/the-internal-memo-that-allowed-ibms-female-employees-to-get-married/272832/

Up until 1951, if you were a woman working at IBM and got married, you had to quit. I did not know that.

The linked article on HuffPo is interesting too: The Face of a "Computer" from 1946. It talks about the early days of computers and what that work was like back then.

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Reply The Internal Memo That Allowed IBM's Female Employees to Get Married (Original post)
MadrasT Feb 2013 OP
ismnotwasm Feb 2013 #1
MadrasT Feb 2013 #4
get the red out Feb 2013 #2
MadrasT Feb 2013 #3
ismnotwasm Feb 2013 #5

Response to MadrasT (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 04:38 PM

1. Ugh

Can you imagine?

Despite all the setbacks and the slow going forward, at least conditions like these are no longer required.

It's creepy as well to think of 'unmarried' read 'unprotected' women going to work in a male dominated field.

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Response to ismnotwasm (Reply #1)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:10 PM

4. I know, right?

I can't believe we have only been allowed to VOTE for 93 years.

The scene in the movie "Lincoln" that struck me most was a scene where they were arguing about the 13th Amendment on the floor of the House and one congressman made a speech about how he was in favor of freeing the slaves... but what would happen next is, we'd have to give them the right to vote!!! And then WHAT NEXT??? OMG OMG OMG WIMMENZ WOULD GET THE VOTE!!!1!!!

And the House disrupted into complete mayhem at the mere mention of the thought of women voting.

Crazy.

I would have lasted about 2 seconds 100 or 200 years ago... I would've ended up out west wearing pants going all calamity jane on people's asses.

I don't handle being told "No you can't" very well at all.

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Response to MadrasT (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 04:45 PM

2. I have no proof of this but

A very elderly woman I once knew, years dead now, told me that there was a huge push to get women out of the workplace after the war to make way for the men leaving the military. That's when all the perfect housewife propaganda took over in "Leave it to Beaver" style.

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Response to get the red out (Reply #2)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:02 PM

3. She actually mentions that in the HuffPo article

What was it like to be a woman working in a computing lab?
At that time, IBM fired you if you got married. The reason was, it was the end of the war and they wanted to hire people who had fought in the war, who were then coming back from World War II and wanted jobs. I think you could understand that, and people did understand that at the time.


Women in the workforce when you need them to build war machines is OK-fine.

But when the war is over? GO MAKE BABIES AND GET BACK IN THE KITCHEN!!!

Always about what the men want, and serving the interest of men.

Fuck that.



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Response to MadrasT (Reply #3)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 05:11 PM

5. I've read that elsewhere

And it wasn't just women, blacks as well. In Seattle, what became housing projects were actually WW11 housing for war manufacturing workers. There were a number of protests that these workers included blacks. After the war, there were layoffs and racist housing/zoning/ lending laws put in place that can be directly traced to many current social ills, including racism and sexism

I agree

Fuck That

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