“Miss Remington” Goes to Work: Gender, Space, and Technology at the Dawn of the Information Age

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Abstract:

At the end of the 19th century, the financial services sector underwent a technological “revolution” with the invention of the typewriter, dictaphone, and hollerith machine. At the same time, the gender of labor within this sector was also changing, such that by the end of the first quarter of the 20th century, most of the work taking place in white-collar offices was performed by women. After introducing the broader research project on which this is based, I consider how technology and social relations shaped one another at the level of the body, the workplace, and with broader networks of branch banking, focusing on early 20th-century Montreal, Canada. I argue that the financial services sector worked to create a system in which men flowed through and women functioned as fixed points. I further argue that this pattern was echoed at different scales within the financial services industry, from the level of the body and the workplace up through spatially dispersed national-level networks.

Keywords: clerical work; gender; information technology; workplace culture

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0033-0124.2004.05602005.x

Affiliations: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Publication date: May 1, 2004

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