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When did women take over the switchboards?

Approximately 71% of call centre workers are female*. However, it wasn’t always like this. In 1878 the Boston Telephone Dispatch company had started hiring boys as telephone operators due to the role being more active then (and lets be honest probably cheaper, but that’s a whole other article!). However, the boys weren’t so great in the workplace, so the company began hiring women operators instead. Thus, on the 1st of September 1878, they hired Emma Nutt as the first woman operator.

The quote from journalist Herbert Casson below illustrates the ‘problem’ at the time in 1910…
“Boys, as operators, proved to be most complete and consistent failures. Their sins of omission and commission would fill a book. What the whittling the switchboard, swearing at subscribers, playing tricks with the wires, and roaring on all occasions like young bulls of Bashan, the boys in the first exchanges did their full share in adding to the troubles of the business. Nothing could be done with them.”

Thankfully, we don’t have the same concerns with our operators nowadays! And the prerequisites are based on attention to detail, typing speed and articulation.

If you would like an amazing team to direct and filter your company’s calls, please contact us on 020-3970-5550 or where we can find the best solution for you.


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