Past & Future

Oral Histories

Janet Stout

Janet Stout discusses her hopes for the new generation and a new future for women in the service.

Janet Stout: This has been an awesome, awesome career; I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world, I just finished my 30th year last month so I’ve been an inspector for 30 years, it is incredible, the, um, changes in the Inspection Service from when I first came in. Um, the uh-women are, um, pretty much accepted now, particularly the younger generation of guys that come in, they never knew it in any other way so it never, uh, enters their mind that-that a woman sitting at the desk is a, is a, um, surprise. Um, I’ve been off and on during my career, work-served as training officer and really saw three real different generations that the men that I came in with, that you know this is something new, and something that had to be quote dealt with, uh, something that posed a problem for a lot of them and then the second generation where when those men’s daughters were getting old enough to go into the workplace, um, they often suddenly, um-uh, developed a real understanding for some of the things that were going on when they had to see it through the eyes of their daughters and some of them, their wives, and then there’s the third generation where it’s just simply not an issue, and it’s not an issue for the men or the women, and as I said I’ve got some, some uh, good friends that are-are female agents that are rather young and they just cannot believe some of the things that happened, um, at the time, and how why it was such a big issue so—but all in all it’s been a fabulous career, I am so glad I did it and, uh-um, I wouldn’t change it.

Dianne Williams

Dianne Williams talks about the tremendous increase in the number of women in the service from 1969 to the present.

Dianne Williams: When I came into the post office in 1969 there were not a whole lot of women in the post office. But I can say from having the positions I’ve had and doing a lot of travel and getting around to different postal facilities. That has really changed. That has really changed. I think it’s gone from like 20 to 30% women to now 60 to 70 percent women really. And women are in every position, have every title there is. And there has just been a big change.

Janet Stout

Janet Stout remembers how few women were in the service when she began work.

Janet Stout: Mostly because when I first became a postal inspector in 1978 there were so few women. Um—the classes that went through the academy, there were usually two or four women at the most, never-never any more for several more years. We started hiring women in 1971. The, um, retention rate, uh, for women, uh, was a-a lot lower than it was for men so I can’t tell you how many women were in the Inspection Service when I was hired, um, my first assignment in San Francisco I was only the third woman that had ever been in that division so in a division of, um, over a hundred people I was the third female inspector to ever be assigned there, um, my experience was different because they didn’t quite know what to do with women, there was a paternal protective attitude towards women. Most women, uh, when they came into, when they were assigned a division, went to an audited assignment and, um, that was considered a safe assignment and, uh, that I too went to an audited assignment. Uh, shortly after I went there, they needed a, uh, woman to work undercover, which was also the other assignment that, uh, women were often put into, and so I worked undercover on a fraud case and, um, slowly but surely there got to be more women and, um, I re-was a team leader at the point where we had, uh, too many women to have more than one woman on a team so from 1978 until-well from the beginning of women in the, uh, Service until 1989 about, there was never more than one woman on a team so you were probably a lot more isolated than most males, and, uh, I was in the team leader meeting where it was debated what they were going to do if they had to put two women on a team, which was kind of an interesting experience for me so I think the main, uh, reason my experience was different is because, um, it’s-it was a much more isolating, um, it was much more isolating for women than it was for men.

Gretchen Day

Gretchen Day shares the story of her aunt, one of Washington, DC’s first female postal clerks.

Gretchen Day: We used to hear stories from the first women who came into the Postal Service, and they were, uh, all pretty interesting. Um, ‘cause they told us, you know, back in the early days when they first came in, the men didn’t like ‘em and didn’t want ‘em. Mmm, basically thought they were nuisances and that they should go away. But, they kind of toughed it out and, uh, ‘cause my aunt- my mom has a twin sister- my aunt, she lives in California now, and she was one of the original Washington DC female clerks. She came in some time in the very early sixties. She was one of the first women. You know, she told me, um, she bidded out to Bethesda and got out there, it was all men. And they were like, “Where’d this woman come from. We don’t like her.” But, my aunt was kind of, huh, I guess you could call her like a very early Valley Girl. She’s like-was totally oblivious-it’s like if you don’t-she didn’t notice. He! He! He! It was finally like-so they decided, “Man! If we aint gittin’ to her, I guess we might as well accept her.

Pamela Vanetta

Pamela Vanetta talks about growing up with a postmaster for a mother.

Pamela Vanetta: Back when I was young and she was the postmaster of the tiny little town which we lived in. I used to go into the Post Office with her when she would work because she was the only one there. And, I would watch her and I liked what she did. I mean, she enjoyed herself and she was friends with all the people in the town. And, they all knew me, they all knew her, they all knew the whole family. Everybody knew everybody. And, she just enjoyed what she did. And, uh, when I did get old enough, that’s when I started applying for different jobs and-and such. And, uh, wasn’t ‘til quite a few years later when I finally got into the post office. But when I did, I was-I was just extremely excited and, uh, really happy that I got in as a rural letter carrier because I-I’ve seen all the other positions now that I’ve worked all the years and-and I wouldn’t trade this one for the nothing.