Cheers to Emma Nutt: September 1st
On September 1st, we celebrate Emma Nutt, the world’s first female telephone operator. She paved the way for women in the field -- and, indeed, in the workplace as a whole, since so few females in 1878 worked outside of the home.
The phone industry was initially dominated by men, but 140 years ago today, Alexander Graham Bell himself chose Emma to be the first woman telephone operator with the Edwin Holmes Telephone Dispatch Company in Boston, Massachusetts. Unsurprisingly, her service was great: She was patient, polite, and highly competent, giving credibility to female professionals and sparking the astronomical rise in employment of women in the industry.
Emma was a trailblazer in so many ways. She spearheaded a drastic change in the face and the tone of the telecommunications industry in the US. By the 1950s, the majority of telephone operators in the nation was women. Her employment also bolstered the idea that women could work outside their homes and contribute to the economy. She and her sister Stella together comprised the world's first sister duo to work as telephone operators, and their contributions to society and success in their field paved the path for future generations of girls in professions traditionally reserved for men.
As a femaleCEO of a telecom company, I know how true this is and am grateful for pioneers like them. With a career lasting 35 years and a legacy spanning 140, today we toast (and text and tweet) the original boss babe, Emma Nutt!