Wartime communication was something that was essential during WWI and the US’s efforts to stay in touch with the Allied forces. In order to make this communication possible, more than 25,000 women went to Europe to act as telephone operators.
I found this article to be interesting for many reasons! One of which was the high educational requirements that they had for these ladies, granted it made sense due to the fact that they would have to translate and operate a switchboard simultaneously and quickly. However, I thought it was interesting that the women they preferred for this job were typically in their late 20s, early 30s. Some of the reasons for them being ‘older’ was because they were viewed as more mature, but also because they didn’t want the American Soldiers to get distracted or make advances. By having these women be a bit older, there was a hope that they would be viewed as a maternal figure, rather than a potential spouse.
While they were able to get a decent turnout for women to work as operators, many women were not allowed to go due to their parents, jobs, etc. Single, young, white women from the south were forbidden by their parents from going to the war. This seems to be an interesting contrast to the amount of women that we have that are able to serve in our nation’s forces today.
Overall, the work that these women did for our country was done really quickly, diligently, and really well.
In the words of Beyonce, Who run the world? Girls!
Frahm, Jill. “The Hello Girls: Women Telephone Operators with the American Expeditionary Forces during World War I.” The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 3, no. 3 (2004): 271-93. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25144374.