History Behind Telephone Operators

Did you know that in 1878 a woman named Emma Nutt made history and all she did was pick up the phone? She didn’t just connect calls and answer customers’ questions, she helped bring in a new era of telecommunications and create a new job field for women because of her soothing voice.

Telephone operators used to be rude teenage boys until Alexander Graham Bell heard a woman’s voice…

Boy operators were common and often made jokes, conducted wrestling matches on the job and shouted “ahoy!” into the phones when they answered, which was preferred by Alexander Graham Bell himself. Edward Holmes, the owner of a bustling home security company, quickly realized that his immature boy employees were endangering his business.

Unlike the male employees, Emma Nutt was patient and polite on the phone. She used a voice that was soothing and cultured and she navigated with ease. Many other companies saw the benefit of having a female operator and began to hire more women instead of men. By the turn of the 20th century, more and more single women were joining the workforce. Married women were expected to be responsible for duties at home so most companies only hired single women.

Working in the telephone industry was highly looked upon, since many jobs were in a factory or sweatshop setting.  Women looked at telecommunications as a way to achieve class mobility and were passionate, which made telephone companies abandon male labor and opt for women’s work.

However, not every woman got a job. As voices became more and more important, operators often had to take lessons and elocution classes to ensure they sounded poised on the phone. Any woman with an accent of any kind most likely didn’t get hired as an operator.

Emma Nutt set the tone for what was to come with her friendly voice one call at a time and she truly created the era of telecommunications. If you’re looking for a phone service provider who is a leader in the industry and an innovator in the field, contact Vaspian today!

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