The Biggest and Most Supportive Feminist I Know is My Father
An open letter to a hometown hero
“Women no longer have an ‘if I can’ mindset. Now it’s more about ‘how I can’—be in tech, start something in tech, fund something in tech. That shift is exciting! And it happened because we created a network where we show, daily, that women are innovating.” - Shaherose Charania, Co-Founder and CEO of Women 2.0
To my dearest Father,
I am grateful to you.
Back in 1999, you saw an advert recruiting for a young man interested in an Information Communication Technology (ICT) / Digital Apprenticeship.
YOU chose to challenge this by saying you knew the ideal candidate!
However, it was a young woman.
You believed in me and my technical abilities. You also understood that one's gender identity did not detemine one's skillset!
The excuse made was I would have to lift heavy computers. Your response was — “AND?”
You said that the advert was old-fashioned and sexist.
So, I was given a chance at a practical interview where I needed to recondition and set up a computer — from scratch. I was told this would not be made easy and I would have to move the computer myself.
Back then in the prehistoric era of technology computers and monitors were heavy and I mean really heavy.
In addition to needing weight-lift training you also needed to have the patience of a Buddist Monk. There was also none of this plug-and-play malarkey that we have today.
Device drivers had to be downloaded onto something called a floppy disk. Which was an ancient flat square object that you could save stuff on. Such as 3-word documents and 2 photographs, before it told you it was full.
Sometimes device drivers needed to be saved on 2 to 3 floppy disks, that I called parts a, b and c.
The internet was accessed via a dial-up connection that was plugged into a phone line. Once connected you could search the internet for the device driver you needed, but there was one snag...
The several minutes each page took to load!
Eventually- a few years later after you had installed the device driver onto the floppy you could download it onto the desktop to be unsuccessfully installed onto the system- because it's still prefered the Windows 95 operating system!
Windows 98 and Windows ME isn't discussed 😳
The strange object in the photograph above is a real floppy disk where data was once saved.
Moving swiftly on I PASSED the practical interview! As a woman, somehow I was actually able to move a computer all by, amazing.
I was invited to a real interview - now that I had proved you didn't need to own a pair of balls to work as a computer technician.
2.5 years later I received my modern apprenticeship in Information, Communication Technology (ICT), and Digital.
I went on to be a director of my own digital company for nearly 5 years that specialised in language learning. I now do public speaking in the world of STEM and work as a lead in digital services.
My Father was the one there, every step of the way, not just championing me on, but in doing so also speaking up for women in tech everywhere!
For that, I am eternally grateful.
Your loving daughter.
PS: I am proud of all the women pushing the boundaries and challenging the status quo, but also hats off to all the men that have our backs and challenge too, thank you to them and my father!
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