Oral history interview with Beth Eddy

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Oral history interview with Beth Eddy

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Charles Babbage Institute


Oral History


Beth Eddy grew up in rural New York state then graduated with a math degree from Elmhurst College (outside Chicago). She accepted a job in 1966 at Western Electric working on the pioneering ESS, initially in downtown Chicago and then relocating to the Bell Labs Indian Hill facility in Naperville. Her work involved assembly or machine language programming, eventually COBOL, supporting large databases for the ESS project. After three years, she moved into installation engineering for ESS. She describes tactics for women’s “voice” to be effectively heard in meetings. She led a protest against a men-only ‘Stag Picnic’ (described also in Lois Herr’s Women, Power and AT&T [2002]). With a promotion to department chief, she became the earliest women in Western Electric management. To achieve salary parity, she arranged a transfer to AT&T headquarters and worked in maintenance engineering, another male-dominated area, returning to Indian Hill (around 1980) as assistant manager of the data center and a development group. She then took on supervisory positions in Human Relations, building construction, software development, and switching installation. She discusses strategies for attracting women and African-American staff as well as managing a diverse workforce. She shares observations on the 1970s women’s movement and its subsequent evolution. This material is based on work funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation award B2014-07 “Tripling Women’s Participation in Computing (1965-1985).”


Transcript, 33 pp.

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Alfred P. Sloan Foundation award B2014-07 “Tripling Women’s Participation in Computing (1965-1985).”

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Beth Eddy, OH 500. Oral history interview by Thomas J. Misa, 10 December 2015. Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

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Eddy, Beth. (2015). Oral history interview with Beth Eddy. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/188528.

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