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For Educators


Women, Power, and AT&T
Winning Rights in the Workplace
Lois Kathryn Herr




Northeastern University Press
2002 • 224 pp. 16 illus. 6 x 9"
Memoir / Women's Studies / Labor Studies

$22.00 Paperback, 978-1-55553-536-0




An insiders' view of women's life in the corporate world, and an invaluable case study of how reform really happens.

In the 1960s, Lois Kathryn Herr left her job as a seventh-grade English teacher and entered the ranks of AT&T, where in unprecedented ways she helped awaken the corporate giant to its injustices against women. What she and others accomplished by the early seventies would raise the standard of treatment of women in corporations throughout the United States. Yet in the beginning, Herr knew little of the burgeoning women's movement. Here she tells about her growing feminist awareness and her career as an activist who remained loyal to her company while effecting positive change.

When Lois Herr began her career at AT&T, it seemed that a world of opportunity had opened up. The company, which employed one million people nationwide, was respected for unparalleled operations management. Herr earned better pay than a teacher, found fulfilling work, and saw opportunities for furthering her education. But after inquiring about a career move, and finding herself shut out for no logical reason, Herr began to look closer at the fairness of company policies.

What started as a personal conflict soon prompted Herr to hook up with other women in the company. Senseless dress codes for women, the "stag picnic," the practice of indicating women's marital status in the company directory-as well as unequal benefits and career opportunities-all emerged as issues to be pursued with management. The collegial atmosphere in the research and development area where Herr worked made it easy to openly discuss the issues, but changing the culture of a nationwide company required stronger resources.

Describing the growing feminist consciousness throughout the sixties and seventies, the important links of information provided by the National Organization for Women (NOW), and the impact of NOW's public protests against AT&T, Herr explains how the interests of AT&T women converged with the challenge of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a fledgling government agency seeking a large target. She thoroughly examines the genesis and development of the EEOC's case, which ultimately resulted in the landmark 1973 EEOC-AT&T Consent Decree, an agreement that set a precedent for groundbreaking changes in how women and minority employees were treated in the workplace.



Lois Kathryn Herr is Director of Marketing and Public Affairs at Elizabethtown College, where she also teaches a colloquium on women at work. She spent twenty-six years working for various units of AT&T, and, after divestiture, NYNEX, before returning to her home county of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.






Wed, 20 Jun 2012 09:53:34 -0500