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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Kenneth Iverson, June 11, 1999. Interview I-0083. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Company president willingly hires women

Iverson never hesitated to employ female workers at his steel plants, and his female workers never had trouble on the plant floor, he recalls. He found women to be particularly talented crane operators—he theorizes that they are more dexterous than men—and they made valuable additions to the white collar side of his operations as well.

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Oral History Interview with Kenneth Iverson, June 11, 1999. Interview I-0083. 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.

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JM: We had talked earlier about how you grabbed hold very quickly of the whole issue of Jim Crow style racial division within a plant and took care of that and it didn't prove to be much of a problem. Was the integration of women into Nucor Mills over the years--. It must be an interesting story. KI: That's a good question. We have hired lots of women over the years, but remember steel is not a climate that is necessarily conducive to the female. We ran an ad one time for women in the steel mill. JM: I've seen that. KI: They're wonderful workers. I'll tell you were they were the very best in maintenance or in crane operations. They had a dexterity, of course, that is probably a little bit better than men. We have lots of women who operate cranes in the company. They've done very well. We've had a number of women in the financial area, of course, too. We even had some that have operated furnaces, although that's rare. We were always interested in hiring regardless of the sex [of the applicant]. That didn't make any difference. It was just difficult. We had two women that I remember had applied as truck drivers one time. They took them out and got in a truck and said, “Drive it around.” They couldn't do it. We had a women who we hired one time and we said, “Now, when you got out as an inventory control [worker], you've got to wear slacks. You can't go out and climb over all that in a dress.” She said, “Well my religion won't let me wear pants.” She had to quit right a way. Instances like that kind of made it less easy to employ a lot of women. JM: How about in terms of the shop floor culture? Was the arrival of women onto the shop floor in the mills a substantial management problem for your plant managers [and] general managers? KI: No. I don't ever remember that. We've had women who are in maintenance, and we've had women who worked out in the shop. It's never been a problem. I imagine there are instances where there have been some disappointed women or disappointed men, but we've never had that as a problem.