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The Tech Industry Is No Place For A Woman

by Samantha Parry 12 months ago in gender roles

The outdated theory of the superiority of man.

One seriously boss mom!

Being a woman in the tech industry is difficult enough by today’s standards. Try doing it in the early eighties, before Hillary Clinton popularized the pant suit and only a decade after the bra burning movement. My mother was one of the brave women who conquered the field and still managed to make it home in time for dinner (most nights). Working for IBM in the peak of its existence, she pioneered the use of SAP, a software system that, after years of explanation, still eludes me. During that time she received a software utility patent that I also don’t understand. Clearly I did not follow in her footsteps.

My mom was a boss mom before so many women dared to try, and she did it all in a pair of pumps with a full face of makeup (I’d like to see a man do that), but before traveling the world and slaying the tech industry, my mom faced her set of obstacles, placed on her by the glass ceilings that had not yet been shattered.

There’s one story in particular she told me time and again when I was a little girl, mainly because I made her tell me time and again, over and over, just about every day. It was the tale of a man, so blinded by his own chauvinism and prejudice, that he would attempt to destroy my mom’s career before she even got started. I have pulled years worth of inspiration from this story, to never let someone else tell me what I can and can’t do.

The tale begins at a two year school in New York at the end of the 70’s. During that time, she was the only female in her class. For one course, the students were given a series of computer labs to perform. After completing every single one of them, she received a failing grade. She confronted the teacher and asked if there had been anything wrong with her labs.

His response was, “No, that’s the problem. They were all perfect.”

At her inquisitive look, he explained further that she had the best scores in the class and there’s no way a woman could do so well, so he concluded that she must have cheated off the boys, and therefor she would fail, even though he had no proof.

At this, she left the class feeling defeated and wondering if it was worth continuing on in an industry that valued her so little. She knew this would not be an isolated incident, and she was right. In her career, things of this nature would continue to happen.

However, in that moment, she made the wise decision to call her father, a WWII vet, a physicist for General Electric, and a hell of a ballroom dancer. They hadn’t always seen eye to eye and their relationship struggled during her rebellious teenage years, but at this moment, he was on her side and he knew how to be a fighter. He gave her sound advise, which I still remember to this day through the regurgitated words of my mom. He told her that people would try to belittle her in life, but part of her duty was to rise above them and prove them wrong. It was her responsibility to go back in there and do those labs again as perfectly as she did the first time, and show him what a woman can accomplish, without the help of a man.

So she did just that. She went back and did every single lab from scratch, with that man standing over her waiting for her to fail, looking for anything he could pinpoint as a mistake. And of course, as we already know, she did every one perfectly. After that, the professor was forced to give her the grade she deserved.

I’d like to believe he learned a lesson that day and reflected inward at his own set of prejudices. However, my cynicism tells me that’s not what happened. But I don’t believe stories like this are meant to teach a lesson to the oppressor, these stories are meant for the oppressed. The stories of the people who overcome injustice, no matter how big or small, are meant to inspire the future generation of people now fighting their own injustices, whether it be gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or any other of the many differences that were meant to make the human race beautiful. My mom is my inspiration to fight adversity. And every day she continues inspiring me to be a boss.

gender roles

About the author

Samantha Parry

Samantha is a NYC based writer and actress. Previous works include writing and directing her play, Brothers, Sisters, Husbands and Wives. For more, follow her Instagram, @SamanthaLynParry or check out her website, www.SamanthaLynParry.com

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