CEOHP Practice Interview:
Nell Dale on her educational path

Nell Dale

Interview with Nell Dale, The University of Texas at Austin
on June 26, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal
Interviewed by Leslie Schwartzman, Roosevelt University
File: daleByLS-20050626-experience.mp3
[3.8 Mb, about 4 minutes, opens in new window]

L: This is being recorded on June 26th {2005} in Lisbon, Portugal. I am Leslie Schwartzman and I am interviewing Nell Dale. And would you just tell just us your name exactly and where you come from?

N: My name was originally Nell Boylan and so it's Nell Boylan Dale. And I have no middle name, so my maiden name became my middle name. And I was born in Savannah, Georgia, but my father was a career army officer. So I came from everywhere and then finally ended up in Texas.

L: You have a southern accent.

N: I have a generic southern accent.

L: Uh huh.

N: I can go deep south if I need to. {distorted short segment}

N: I have an undergraduate degree in mathematics and psychology. And I went immediately from undergraduate school to work on a Master's. I had gotten my undergraduate degree at night school and so I wanted to be a full-time student. And I went to The University of Texas at Austin to get a Master's in mathematics. And then, before I finished my thesis, I went to Houston and worked for Shell Development Corporation. And I have a great deal of love for Shell because I did a lot of interviewing before I took that job. This was in 1961 and I remember two job applications, one in which they were going to invite me back for that second interview. I had computing in my Master's program. I had fallen in love with computing and out of love with mathematics. So there was math and there was computing. And I got called back and they said, "Don't bother for the second interview. The rest of the staff feels that they could not work for a woman." Then there was an interview in which it was set up and the gentleman's secretary called and said "He just realized you were a woman. He thought the name was Neil and not Nell. And don't bother to come." And then I went to work for Shell Development, a wonderful organization. I had a change of supervisors from a woman to a man at the end of two months. And the man called me in and said, "I have looked at your resume and Ernie Jones's resume. You have the same background and they pay him more. So I'm giving you a raise retroactively." So I always tell my best students that Shell ...

I spent two years working for Shell and then married and went back to The University of Texas. And worked at the Linguistics Research Center, which was involved in language translation. And that was great fun. And then the Computer Science Department was formed at The University of Texas. And I had finished my Master's thesis while I was there at the Linguistics Research Center. I got intrigued by what this new department was going to be. It was made up of people from linguistics and psychology and mathematics and engineering, and the general topic really intrigued me. And so I [applied and was one of the first three Ph.D. candidates in that department].