The Hello Girls of WWI
March is Women’s History Month. I’m excited to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of women throughout history. Women are leaders. We’re innovators. And we are team players. Women are critical to success and growth and help companies, like AT&T, reach its highest potential.
That is true today, and that has been the case throughout the history of the Company.
I’d like to share one shining example that’s really inspired me. I’m talking about a group of more than 200 amazing women called the Hello Girls, who served our country in World War I.
They were trained and prepared by Bell Telephone Company (later to become AT&T), then sent to France from 1917-1918 to serve as telephone operators during World War I. These women played a critical role in the war. With the telephone as their tool, they relayed crucial information across the battlefield.
The Hello Girls wore uniforms, held rank, received medals, and served with distinction. Upon discharge, however, the Army determined they were not soldiers after all and refused to provide them with Veteran benefits.
For 60 years, these telephone operators fought the U.S. government for the benefits and recognition they so deserved. Finally, in 1977, President Carter signed legislation recognizing the women.
A book sharing their story and their struggle, called “The Hello Girls” by Elizabeth Cobbs, was released in 2017. A film based on the book and with the same title, has been made by a filmmaker named James Theres. The film is premiering today at the Women’s Memorial in Arlington, marking the 100th anniversary of the women leaving for France.
I’m proud to be part of a company that’s elevating this story. We’re raising our voice to further the authentic and real portrayal of women in media. We’re inspiring, empowering and enabling women in our workforce. More than 75,000 women work at AT&T. They work in STEM careers, they are inventors and they are senior leaders.
And we’re proud to sponsor the world premiere of “The Hello Girls” to share the story of these remarkable women who paved the way for so many others. Here is a link to learn more about this powerful film.
Marissa Shorenstein - President, AT&T Northeast Region