Way Back When... 1879
Published 12:00 am, Sunday, March 25, 2018
On March 24, 1879, Marjorie Gray became Connecticut’s first female telephone operator.
Working for the Telephone Dispatch Co. of Bridgeport (which was taken over by the
Southern New England Telephone Co.), Gray represented a new trend in telecommunications hiring practices.
Before 1879, the company employed teenage boys as telephone operators. However, subscribers complained the operators played pranks and were rude.
To meet customers’ demand for patient, polite, and efficient service — qualities the company decided were more likely to be found in women — female workers were recruited and trained to become switchboard operators.
By March 1907, Southern New England Telephone had opened the nation’s first school for operators.
The year Marjorie Gray became Connecticut’s first female telephone operator.