Prior to the arrival of the computer, more women worked in offices than men did in construction. These women didn’t identify with the emerging women’s movement and labor movement, and were mostly apolitical. Even so, in the early 1970s a group of female secretaries and typists working in Boston decided they’d had enough of being marginalized. Why were they referred to as “girls” throughout their working life, why couldn’t they make the most of their talents, and why couldn’t they build up a pension? Couldn’t their bosses get their own coffee? What began modestly, with newsletters and conversations, soon grew into an influential movement.
The women involved at the time talk about what they faced in the course of their work, and how they learned to organize themselves and stand up for their rights. Their actions were extensively documented, and archive material is also used to set the historical context, such as the introduction of the term “sexual intimidation.”
We also hear from Jane Fonda: the Oscar-nominated 1980 comedy film Nine to Five grew out of her conversations with the women of the 9to5 movement. The title track “9 to 5” was a huge hit for Dolly Parton.