Hullo, Operator?

Lots of people think that the reason that it is generally women who make telephone announcements is because they have better and clearer voices. And that their voices are more reassuring. And they do, studies have proven this to be the case after the fact. However that’s not the reason that women were selected. In fact the reason was far less scientific than that.

Originally the people who were telephone operators were all boys who had previously been employed as telegraph operators. They were ideal for the telegraph service which involved a lot of learning of systematic techniques and running about delivering telegrams (mainly the second thing was the thing they were good at it turns out).

But when they started converting them to work on the telephone system it was soon obvious that they were not very good at working in the new conditions. In the telephone system they had to speak to the punters and ask them what they wanted them to do (rather than simply saying, while out of breath, “telegram for you sir”). And then they would have to connect the right wire into the right socket in an incredibly complicated series of wires. And in amongst all of the wires and the enclosed operating spaces not only were practical jokes a problem for the customers more often the bored boys would break out into fights. And so it was realised that girls were the exact thing for this new service and that perhaps they would be able to understand technology after all. Women have never looked back, whereas boys well they’re still fighting over the latest gadgets.

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