Cluck-cluck. Cluck-cluck. Cluck-cluck.”
Every day, as 17-year-old Diana Tremblay entered the cafeteria at the iron foundry where she worked in Defiance, Ohio, one of the workers accompanied her footsteps with squawking and clucking noises, imitating a chicken.
After this went on for a while, Tremblay, who had just started her first year at General Motors Institute, where she was training in industrial management, had had enough. She walked up to the man, a forklift driver in his 30s, and asked him, “What is it? Why do you keep clucking at me? Do you want to talk to me? My name's Diana.”
The man turned bright red and was too embarrassed to reply. The clucking stopped. Later, Tremblay became his boss as she took on more responsibility in the plant, which melted, poured, and finished the iron used for car engines. “It was one of those little tests to see how you're going to handle it,” she says.
At an assembly plant in Pontiac, Michigan, at about the same time, 18-year-old Mary Makela was getting a hands-on education about what life was like on the factory floor. It was noisy and dirty and rough. And then there were the catcalls.
“They weren't used to seeing a lot of women in the plant,” Barra says. “Every time I turned this one corner in the Pontiac plant, this guy would kind of yell,” she says. “Finally, I walked over and asked him, ‘Why do you do that?’ He said, ‘I don't know,’” she says, laughing. “Well, can't we just say hi?” she ...