My Dad is… was a computer programmer. I never really thought much about it- till we convened FashionCamp in 2009. It’s what he did when he left the house and there were days we’d pray he’d go to work,
FashionCamp was Barcamp style tech unconference, at that time it was one of the most diverse tech events many had attended. As I casually asked each female there how she became interested in Tech each pointed to a dad who was in technology. In fact I’ve asked this question to all the women I’ve had a chance to speak to and all but one pointed to a Father in tech(her influence was her mother). I still was not truly convinced till my youngest sister visited me… It was a breath of fresh air I could speak without having to explain each phrase or concept!
I never really thought we were “She-Geeks”. I hate to code even though I was certified in Cobol (at Dad’s insistence). My Sister is about 12 years younger does not code either, but I learned she can rip apart and reassemble a computer, like no one’s business and her forte was networking. We often laughed that with both a dad and a brother into coding we understood “tech speak” ! Note my dad was a programmer in the 1980’s in what is still considered a third world country. Today Technology as a career choice is common, but I’ve always wondered what made him choose that course, how did he discover this career option. in the late 1970’s.
I grew up up knowing that he had female coworkers. In fact it was not till Fashioncamp that I realized that being a Black female in tech was unusual and that many had not seen nor heard of such! in fact till that day I did not (and still don’t see myself as a black female in technology. The truth is my sister and I, really did not have any special powers, what I realize is that we were not intimidated by the difference and asking the guys I met at BarcampNYC to explain was simple, I’d asked my dad the same question several times. It was “something I’d grown up doing”, Challenging their theories and proving my point was also something I’d had prior experience in and in Tech these skills proved vital. My dad taught us how to solve problems creating as it were mental “algorithms’ to which simple equations can be applied.
Yes that Cobol course made a huge difference in my understanding how today’s tech “languages’ works, and no I do not plan to learn to code some of the more modern languages. I tried it and it bores me. Look I should learn Chinese also (my current laptop has instructions in Chinese, long story) but there are just not enough hours in the day.
The fact is that I, unlike many of my contemporaries, never though of technology as “Alien” or outside my realm simply because I had a dad in Tech.
My dad is on Facebook… due in no small part to my nephew, today he is more into discussion on religion, politics and philosophy than tech but his legacy lives though even as I observe the next generation. So to all the Tech dad’s who have daughter, to my brother with his many girls Thank you for the inspiration and happy Fathers Day!