ABSTRACT

The Women’s Movement came to my corner of Bell Labs in the form of Naomi Weisstein in the early 1970s. My father had arranged a summer job for me with John Krauskopf, a notable color vision researcher and tennis buddy of my father’s. Working at Bell changed the trajectory of my life, turning me into an aspiring vision researcher. The place was packed with important figures in vision and cognition; Bela Julesz, Saul Sternberg, Charlie Harris, et al. In my memory, all were males and, in my memory, all had a female research assistant often referred to as “the girl” as in “My girl will bring you the data”. The arrival of Naomi Weisstein on what I think was a sabbatical visit stirred things up. I don’t recall that anyone had been actively opposed to women’s rights. It just hadn’t really had much impact yet. Naomi was the personification of “impact”. I imagine that the senior scientists felt that impact in a variety of settings. I mostly experienced it at lunch where casually sexist language and assumptions were, shall we say, not going to be ignored. For a 17-year-old kid from the New Jersey suburbs, it was eye-opening.