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The Girls are Coming


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Peggie Carlson


In 1972, Carlson became the first female licensed pipefitter in the state of Minnesota and one of the first women at the Minnesota Gas Company to hold a nonsecretarial position. Here she discusses the harassment she faced, including an attempted sexual assault by one of her co-workers, but she also talks about the men who took her under their wing and taught her how to stand up for herself in a community of men. Carlson briefly discusses her parents' frustration at seeing their daughter give up college for a job they considered demeaning. She also notes the changes that occurred as minorities and younger men with working wives joined the staff, replacing some of the old-line white male employees. Carlson's book is similar to Solange de Santis's Life on the Line (LJ 6/1/99), but she has written more of a memoir than a piece of reportage. This should find a home in collections of women's history, biography, and manufacturing history.√ĄDanna C. Bell-Russel, Library of Congress Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

"Can women be trained to do men's work?" According to Carlson, this unspoken question lurked in the minds of the male workers at a Minnesota natural gas company called Minnegasco when four women were hired in compliance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Act in 1974. One of the women, a 22-year-old African-American college student at the time, has now written an account of her experiences that supports her contention that her male co-workers' antagonism stemmed from sexism rather than racism. In fact, Carlson gave up her first company job as a meter reader because a black male employee schemed to make her life as difficult as possible. Trained as a pipe fitter instead, she describes the experiences, both good and bad, that she and a fellow female worker shared in fitting into a male environment. The author of a children's book (The Canning Season), Carlson writes with assurance, although the episodic narrative makes for a somewhat disjointed read. The anecdotes rely heavily on exact conversations between workers, but since the journals Carlson kept during this period were accidentally thrown away, the dialogue may be more accurate in spirit than verbatim. Despite the offensive jokes and unwelcome sexual advances she endured, Carlson became very fond of some of her supervisors and colleagues, who came to respect her ability to do her job. She dropped out of college and continued to work for 11 more years at Minnegasco, where she met her future husband. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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