The Electrical Experimenter, October, 1916, pages 396-397, 452:
The Feminine Wireless Amateur
JUST because a man, Signor Guglielmo Marconi by name, invented commercial wireless telegraphy does not mean for a moment that the fair sex cannot master its mysteries. To prove that the girls and women of the country are rapidly awakening to the fact that radio operating is a worth-while accomplishment, both vocationally and intellectually, we have the pleasure of presenting herewith a number of photographs showing the Radio activities of our fairer sex.
First we wish to introduce Miss Kathleen Parkin of San Rafael, California, who, though only fifteen, is an expert radio operator and mechanician, and one of the youngest, fully qualified ladies we have had the pleasure of reporting. We felt so enthusiastic over the sentiments set forth in Miss Parkin's interesting communications on the subject that we had our artist reproduce her ladyship at the key, in full colors for our front cover. The original photograph is reproduced on this page. She recently received a first grade commercial radio operator's license from the United States Government. Her call is 6SO and Miss Parkin says she will be pleased to communicate with any amateur within range. Here is the chance for budding Radio Don Juans to kill a rainy evening, without even getting their feet wet. Bashful amateurs, please take notice!
Miss Parkin writes logically, although she is young in years, to wit:
With reference to my ideas about the wireless profession as a vocation or worthwhile hobby for women, I think wireless telegraphy is a most fascinating study, and one which could very easily be taken up by girls, as it is a great deal more interesting than the telephone and telegraph work, in which so many girls are now employed. I am only fifteen, and I learned the code several years ago, by practising a few minutes each day on a buzzer. I studied a good deal and I found it quite easy to obtain my first grade commercial government license, last April.
It seems to me that every one should at least know the code, as cases might easily arise of a ship in distress, where the operators might be incapacitated, and a knowledge of the code might be the means of saving the ship and the lives of the passengers. But the interest in wireless does not end in the knowledge of the code.
You can gradually learn to make all your own instruments, as I have done with my ¼ kilowatt set.
There is always more ahead of you, as wireless telegraphy is still in its infancy.
Miss Parkin is beginning her third year of high school at the Dominican College, San Rafael, where a small wireless set has been installed for the instruction of the physics class.
Miss Graynella Packer, a young woman of Jacksonville, Fla., whose photograph is shown on the opposite page, has gained for herself the distinction of being the first woman wireless operator to serve aboard a steamship in a commercial capacity. She has served aboard the Clyde liner, Mohawk, in full charge of the wireless. She has greater things in mind, however, and it is her ambition to handle atmospheric electricity aboard some of the big ocean liners. Miss Packer was for two years a telegraph operator at Sanford, Florida. She had a number of amusing and unique experiences on various trips along the Atlantic seaboard, including among other things some highly efficient examples of seasickness, the ship rolling about like a nutshell in a washtub, when the vessel endeavored to navigate a heavy storm off the Carolinas. But she stuck to her post, like all good radio operators, and awaited at all times the captain's orders to flash a message via radio.
Wireless telegraphy instruction was a special feature of the work done in a girls' camp at Rowayton-on-the-Sound, Conn., this summer. Mrs. Josephine Craw, of Craw Avenue, Rowayton, gave the use of eighty-eight acres for the camp, which was in charge of Mrs. M. E. Hamilton and which was indorsed by the National Special Aid Society of 259 Fifth Avenue, New York City, where Mrs. Hamilton has headquarters.
There is a demand for women wireless operators, and they are particularly preferred as wireless operators in department stores, where there is an increasing demand for them. The girls at the camp were instructed first by communicating with motor boats on the Sound, and as they became proficient they operated larger apparatus and communicated with regular radio stations.
We show here two views of the women being instructed in military training camps. They were very enthusiastic over the wonders of the radio system and proved adepts at learning the dots and dashes of the Continental code, in which practically all wireless messages are now transmitted and received. Think for a moment of what importance trained women radio operators would be in the event of dire national peril!
It is hopeful that more and more young women will take up the profession each year. There has been an unprecedented demand for radio operators in the past two years, owing largely to the great number enlisted in the American and foreign armies and navies. Beside this, there is room right now for women radio experts in many capacities. Owing to the marine laws now in effect calling for two operators on each steamer, and for several other reasons it is self-evident that normally the best chances for women operators will be in land stations.
Which brings to mind, among other facts, that of a progressive Boston young lady, who, being a radio operator, found she could not gain a position on a certain ship as two operators were required and one of them was a man! What did she do? Very simple--she married him! Of course this couldn't always happen--far be it from such--but it just shows that where there's a will there's a way.
When the country-wide call was made recently by the navy department for wireless operators who would be available in time of war the first of sixteen to answer in Duluth, Minn., was Mrs. Otto Redfern, wife of the manager of the Marconi station in that city. Mrs. Redfern is an expert operator and is considering opening a school for women to learn the profession. It seems to be only a matter of time, and a short time at that, before we will have women radio operators as an every day matter of course. We find a fairly good number taking up the studies of wireless telegraphy right now in the principal schools in large cities, particularly New York.
At Boston, Mass., one of the Back Bay society girls who recently attended the "Women's Plattsburg" at Chevy Chase, Md., has just been awarded by the United States Government an amateur wireless operator's license of the first class and is the sixth young woman in the United States to enjoy that distinction.
When she left for the National Service School she took her license along and qualified as a wireless operator in the field. After studying in a radio school for a short time Miss Baylies appeared at the office of H. C. Gawler, United States radio inspector, in the custom house at Boston, and was put through a two-hour examination. She passed with flying colors. It is said that she obtained a mark of 97 per cent, which his seldom if ever been attained by any male applicant for such a license.
In the test, which was a stiff one, Miss Baylies was compelled to show her knowledge of the Continental Code and afterward drew a diagram and gave an accurate description of an amateur "hook-up." She easily "received" twelve words a minute in the radio code.
Mrs. Alexander MacKenzie, of the New York State Woman's Suffrage party, Yonkers, is the woman who provided material for a very good wireless story several years ago.
Mrs. MacKenzie's son had rigged up a wireless outfit on the roof of her Yonkers home and she learned to send messages and to receive them to a limited extent. During the summer of 1915 she went to the instruments every day at stated hours, morning, noon and night, and flashed out the words--Votes for women--400 miles into space. Usually she got replies, sometimes from land wireless stations and sometimes from ships at sea, ranging from "Good for you old lady!" and "We're with you!" to "Oh, piffle!" Then again she assumed to be the Goddess of Liberty, and made quite a wireless "speech" explaining how she had grown old waiting for woman suffrage.
The Yonkers women used wireless in their 24-hour demonstration, election night, last November. They made speeches in Manor House Square and a wireless station above the platform received messages from various celebrities and prominent suffragists. Women radio operators will figure in the adoption of wireless on Hudson River steamers. The Hudson Navigation Company has announced that the C. W. Morse and the Berkshire, the two largest vessels in the Hudson River passenger trade, have been equipped with Marconi apparatus and that the rest of the company's fleet would be similarly fitted if the new feature proves successful.
Land stations have already been installed at New York City, Poughkeepsie and Albany. Women operators, dressed in natty blue uniforms, will do the receiving and sending on the steamers.
Wireless telegraphy as a means of livelihood for women and as a means through which they might actively aid their country in time of war is one of the callings in which the members of the Girls' Division of the United States Junior Naval Reserve are receiving instruction. The girls' division of the Naval Reserve was formed to instruct girls in the importance of a navy and a merchant marine for this country in the expectation that a few years hence, when the teachings have had time to permeate among the girls and young women of the country, it will have a tremendous influence on the adoption of a thorough-going preparedness--military and commercial as well as naval--by the federal government.
The preliminary work of organization of the girls' division has been painstakingly done, and two posts have now been formed. One is the Martha Washington Post, of Edgewater, N.J., and the other the Betsy Ross Post, of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The two posts form the nucleus of the Girls' Division of Naval Reservists.
The organizers of the movement have refrained from publicity and soliciting enrollments until they were in position to handle the girls who volunteer. They are now in such condition, and the organization of new posts will be carried on rapidly, as many applications for membership in such posts in various cities have been received. The girls' division of the Naval Reserve has been formed not for a handful of girls whose parents can easily afford to pay for a few weeks' training in a camp, but to reach out to girls who need the training and discipline which the reserve assures them but are unable to pay for such training. Funds to help them in the work prescribed are needed.
There are many girls who are desirous of such training to make them better citizens, who are inspired with patriotism that is just as keen and unselfish as the patriotism that sends the young men and youths of the land into the militia, the regular Army or the Navy. With the training which the Naval Reserve will give them these girls will be fitted for hospital attendants, Red Cross nurses, operators of wireless telegraphy and many other positions in case of need.
The training of the girls who volunteer for work will not be altogether with a view to service to their country in the time of war, but in the time of peace as well.
The science of wireless telegraphy is one of the newest and at the same time one of the deepest subjects extant. The practical ideas have been worked out, it is true, so that an operator can simply close a switch and proceed to manipulate the key, but there are a thousand and one problems of every variety imaginable to be investigated and solved before radio will become anything like an exact science.
Primarily speaking, radio operating requires more than a knowledge of how to "punch" a telegraph key, differing greatly in this respect from wire telegraphy. The schools teaching radio have worked out the problem of imparting the necessary training in a very reasonable time, however, varying from a few months up to a year. The training period depends, of course, upon the knowledge possessed by the student when he or she enters the school.
Basically, of course, the predominant idea is to thoroughly inculcate upon the student's mind the method of handling the transmitting key, which resembles a regular Morse telegraph key exactly. The signals are heard in the telephone receivers, strapped to the head, in the form of short and long buzzing noises. There is no back kick sound as in wire telegraphy, which arises from the sounder arm falling back against its stop.
Besides the usual message form lessons, radiogram make-up, abbreviations, etc., there are the highly interesting and necessary studies of how the waves travel through the ether; electromagnetic induction, dynamos and motors; storage batteries; tuning of the apparatus to different wave lengths so as to eliminate interference from other stations; procedure in case the dynamo current fails; et cetera. It takes a good head for all these studies and so it becomes self-evident that it is a very honorable accomplishment to have graduated as a first-class radio operator.
Again, this is not the end and all of the proposition at all. We have before us the great and as yet, but little explored field of radio engineering. Women seem to progress excellently in the engineering branches. Primarily this is so because her brain is quick of action, and moreover she usually will be found to have extremely well-balanced ideas as to proportions, so essential in designing. A wonderful imagination coupled to a number of other worthy faculties help to make a really fine combination, so that we find a steadily growing number of women architects, mechanical and electrical experts, radio operators, civil engineers, ad lib. What we need is more of them in the higher positions, where the square root and binomial theorem are everyday quantities.