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Interview #456: Chapman, Emily E. (1994)

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00:22:15–00:31:14 EC was never discriminated against at UW...

EC was never discriminated against at UW but did experience what she calls sexual harassment while working for the state. When she demanded an equal if not higher salary than her less qualified male counterparts, her boss accused her of "blackmail" and refused to give her the raise. Although EC opposes sexual harassment, she believes that the issue today is much overblown.

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00:22:15

BT

I just really have one more area that I’d like to cover briefly. In your years on campus, your years here in Madison, let’s talk about discrimination for just a moment. Were you ever discriminated against because of your gender or because of the fact that you went to school as an older student?

EC

No. No.

BT

Did you ever feel any of that?

EC

No. I’ve never been sexually molested, either. [laughter]

BT

Well, we have that on the record. Were you aware--

EC

Or sexually harassed.

BT

Harassed. Was that an issue with any of your friends, or with anyone?

EC

I don’t think so. I’ve always worked in male-dominated areas. Working in the factory. Well, there were a lot of women there because all the men were at war. But working in the foundry. I think there were, myself and one other gal they finally hired, were the only two women working in the foundry. And working in programming it was originally a very male area of, I don’t know. And I have never experienced or noticed or felt any kind of discrimination.

Employment, I did. I was working for, in one job for this one area, I won’t say where, for the state. And I had been working there, and I was their major programmer. This was my beginning, my beginning first time job. And they hired a fellow who didn’t have as much experience as I did, and didn’t know, and I had to teach him everything. And they were, they paid him more than they paid me. And I got mad. [laughs] And I said, “I want a promotion. You said I was going to be your lead programmer. And you’re paying him more than you’re paying me. And he doesn't know as much as I do.” And I said, “I’ll just have to quit if you don’t rectify the situation.”

Well, my boss accused me of blackmailing him! [laughs]

BT

That’s an interesting reversal.

EC

He said, “You’re trying to blackmail me! We need you.”

And I said, “Well, you’ll have to do better than you’re doing.” And I quit. Oh, that was terrible. I hated being without a job for--

BT

Oh, you did follow through on it.

EC

Oh, yes! Three months and no work. Oh. When I was used to working overtime all the time. But I thought, oh, boy, what do you mean, blackmail?

BT

That’s interesting.

EC

I asked my husband if what I said was blackmail. He said, “Heck, no. He’s just stupid.”

BT

I think that’s one plausible interpretation, certainly. During your years at UW, who was president? Was that E.B. Fred for a good part of that time?

EC

Yeah. He was.

BT

Did you know any, what was Dr. Fred’s reputation on campus?

EC

I think it was good. My husband was a very non-political scientist. He never got involved in the politics of the university. He was much too interested in just the scientific area. And he didn’t get involved, and I didn’t get involved. I just kept my nose to the ground and did what I had to do. I don’t think I ever, we may have gone to a football game or two. But as far as fraternizing, I didn’t, I didn’t have the time.

BT

It sounds that way. [laughs]

EC

And one of the interesting things was, when I was taking my first course in programming, in computer science, I would hand in my programs. You’d have to work down in the computer center and work it all out. I would hand them in and the instructor said to me one day, “You sure do things differently than the other students do.”

BT

How so?

EC

He said, “Well, you always get the right answer, but you go about it in a different way.”

And I said, “Well, maybe they all get together to do it.” I said, “I don’t have time to do it.” [laughs]

So I would get an A in all the practical things. But the fellow that was teaching the course would say, “Well, there are other ways of doing it, you know.”

I don’t know. I sort of kept my nose to the grindstone and did it well. Of course I grew up with this you don’t copy, you don’t cheat. This was ground into me from the day I first went to school as a little girl. We didn’t do that. And I don’t understand why kids think that that’s all right to do now. I just don’t understand it.

BT

You know, I’ve covered, I think I’ve covered most of the areas that I’m interested in. Do you have any additional comments or observations you’d like to make at this point?

EC

No. I think this is sort of interesting to do.

BT

Yeah. I think this has been very interesting.

EC

But I do think there’s something I’m a little alarmed at all this sexual harassment talk that’s going around. You know, the way they’re talking about women being sexually harassed, and that if somebody tells a dirty joke or something, that that’s sexual harassment. I think, I think, I don’t know, it seems to me that these must be fairly well protected women that haven’t had a lot of contact with men. Because although I can’t say, even in the factory, the men would be, you could tell they’d been out drinking beer all night because they’d spend half the morning at the water fountain. [laughs] But they, they never, well, they used to whistle, you know, things like that. But what’s a whistle? This, forget it.

BT

So what you’re saying is that this might be overblown today?

EC

Oh, I think, it has to be! I was a good looking gal. I had people—I’m not anymore. But I used to be. People used to whistle.

BT

Did that offend you?

EC

No. No. Frankly, I used to just ignore it. Because my mother told me if somebody’s bothering you, just ignore it. I grew up with a sticks and stones sort of thing drilled into me. That sticks and stones can hurt your bones, but words will never hurt you. Or something like that.

BT

Sticks and stones will break your bones.

EC

Will break your bones, but words--

BT

Names will never hurt you.

EC

Words will never hurt you. Yeah. And I was teased a lot when I was a little kid, because I was the only one in school who wore glasses. I wore glasses from the time I was two. And I just think I got toughened up so that things didn’t bother me like apparently they bother a lot of other people. I don’t know. That’s my only. Because that—

[End Tape 2/Side 1]

[End Oral History #456]

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