Gender discrimination in the workplace
Cannon describes one of the jobs she held while living in Washington, D.C., while her husband worked abroad in India during the mid-1940s. Cannon had been hired by the Russian Purchasing Commission as a statistician; however, she describes how she was often tasked with clerical work because she was a woman. Angered by this gender discrimination, Cannon only stayed in this short time before leaving for a job that allowed her to implement her training and skills.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Isabella Cannon, Spring 1993. Interview G-0188. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
Off we went to Washington. I'm a healthy individual, but I had had an
operation and I was recovering from that, so my first few months in
Washington were a time of exploring Washington. For about six months I
did nothing but ride the buses, go to the museums, go to the historic
places. I got to know Washington deeply, as well as I had known Raleigh.
However, instead of sending my husband overseas, they stationed us in
Washington for about a year; then finally, they sent him to India, and
later to China. They would not let me go along because he was going into
war zones, and wives could not go. I had to stay in the United States.
My decision was to stay in Washington, and again I looked for jobs. The
very specific thing that I decided was that I wanted a job I could not
do in Raleigh. I was adamant I would not do anything that I could do in
Raleigh. The first job I got was with the Russian Purchasing Commission.
I hated it there. I hated their discipline. I was supposed to be
doing work in statistics, but they asked me
"Would I please help them do some typing, some emergency
thing?" So I said, "All right. I'll do that for a week
or so." At the end of the first two weeks they said,
"We need you again for this typing." So I said,
"Look, I'm not interested in a typing job." In fact, I
was not being paid as a typist, but as a statistician. I said,
"Ok, I will do it, but this is the last time." When I
went in at the end of the following two weeks, they started to say,
"Now we need you again in typing." I said,
"I'm leaving. I'm not working as a typist when I'm supposed to
be doing statistical work."