Fran Chessler attended the University of Michigan as a General Motors Scholar, majoring in mathematics and psychology and graduating in 1970. She went to work at Bell Labs Naperville, working on assembly-language programming to collect call data for 1ESS. She discusses the gender biases in the STA and MTS hiring grades. Promoted to MTS she did a master’s at Northwestern University. She discusses affirmative action and the distinct culture of Bell Labs Indian Hill/Naperville. In part owing to connections from the Men and Women in the Work Environment workshops, she moved to the computer center department doing systems programming on IBM computers. She describes an effective management style by her supervisor, Dana Dunn. She moved into a department chief position at Western Electric’s network system division, and compares affirmative action there to Bell Labs. In the mid-1980s she experienced unsettled times in AT&T computer systems, then returned to Bell Labs (all in Chicago) as a supervisor. In moving to the business side as senior product manager, she completed an executive MBA at Northwestern University; and retired from AT&T in 2001.
This material is based on work funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation award B2014-07 “Tripling Women’s Participation in Computing (1965-1985).”