In 1946, Eleanor Kolchin’s father came home with the news that IBM was hiring mathematicians Kolchin was a math major and had already sent out application for a math Master’s degree, in the hopes that she might someday become a teacher. She decided to send IBM a letter as well, and pretty soon she had her first full-time job.
Kolchin, who is now 86, recently recalled those early days of the computing industry in a fascinating interview with the Huffington Post‘s Bianca Bosker. Women, in those days, were seen as temporary hires, holding a spot for a man, which she would relinquish if she got married. Kolchin herself got married, but did so “on the sly.” As she explains in the interview:
What was it like to be a woman working in a computing lab?
At that time, IBM fired you if you got married. The reason was, it was the end of the war and they wanted to hire people who had fought in the war, who were then coming back from World War II and wanted jobs. I think you could understand that, and people did understand that at the time.
So were you able to keep your job when you got married?
I did get married on the sly. And then in 1951 they changed the law, and I got married.
The “law” Kolchin refers to is not so much a law but a company policy — one that IBM rescinded in 1951 with IBM LETTER #3930, which Sociological Images got a hold of in 2010. “Effective immediately and until further notice,” the memo read, “1. A female employee will not be required to resign from the company upon marriage.” And, it continued, “2. The Company will consider for employment a married female.”
State Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, has introduced a bill in the legislature that will require all summer camps to be licensed by the state and which will mandate criminal background checks for camp counselors.
Pafford said he decided to introduce the bill after he read a series of stories last year in The Palm Beach Post detailing how sexual predators find employment in summer camps or start their own camp programs.
The predators were able to do that because there are no statewide mechanisms to ensure that thorough criminal background checks are performed, as there are for day care centers and other child care centers in Florida. In some cases, predators who had been arrested in one part of the state, or in another state, went undetected because background checks were only conducted locally.
The Post series detailed how those lax standards had led to some children who attended camps being sexually molested.
Pafford’s House Bill 591, “Regulation of Summer Camps,” makes the Florida Department of Children and Families responsible for licensing the camps and performing inspections to ensure that thorough background checks are done.
“The welfare and safety of our children should be the top priority of the legislature,” Pafford said. “Current law says that summer camps must perform background checks, but there is no state agency charged with ensuring this happens. Closing this loophole is such an easy way to help protect our kids from sexual predators.”
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