Discrimination In Computer Information Technology?
Computer Information Technology – It was 1976 when I first entered the computer industry. That is what was called at that time. I work in a service bureau. This means that we process computer programs for many clients. Computers are programmed by programmers, not software developers. Our company led by the president and system analyst is the power behind the throne. Computer operators and keystroke operators are assembly lines; they are responsible for production.
There is one data controller that some companies call a production controller. This position is responsible for scheduling computer work based on client needs. They are somewhat like internal account representatives who are always far from clients and members of the technical team who keep the program operational. The production controller is the person who schedules work for the night running, the person who coordinates with the key operator who then becomes the data entry operator, and the person who is allowed to enter the computer room.
The Computer Room Secured
The computer room was secured by a combo-lock that required a password which was typically six digits long before the latch permitted entry. The production controller was the one who knew everyone. If a job aborted, the production controller contacted one of about six programmers for help or, if things were really bad, someone contacted the systems analyst who typically had an office only slightly smaller than the president’s.
I got a job after applying for classified ads printed at the Denver Post. The ad reads: “Working with computers. No need for experience.” It’s really not easy to get this job as it sounds, but weeks later, I was hired. I feel special. And I feel smart. I still don’t know what a computer is, but I want to learn.
Computer Information Technology
I didn’t realize until a few years later that this industry was dominated by men. Most of the programmers I worked with were hippies. They wore long hair, drank coffee and smoked cigarettes. They were “anti-establishment” and proud of it. And They wrote the programs, they ran the computer room and, occasionally, they tried to explain to management what they did all day. The unspoken agreement was that it was their computer and management could keep their hands off.
Management was responsible for sales and payroll. As long as the pay checks kept coming, the programmers kept the machine running. They seldom had meetings to discuss status and management seldom asked too many questions. They designed programs on a chalk board and drew pictures on the back of “green bar.” Lunch was always a hamburger and a cola. Programmers seldom brought a sack lunch and never went out to lunch. Their work day started when they got there and ended when they decided to go home. They wore blue jeans to work when everyone else wore business attire.
Programmers And Computer Operators
The other unspoken rule seemed to be that men were programmers and computer operators while the women were data entry operators or secretaries. The women made the coffee and the men drank it. The women did the typing from a pre-printed form that the men had completed using a #2 pencil. The men carried calculators in their pockets; the women carried pocketbooks.
The first service bureau I worked for was sold to a larger company. While explaining to me what was happening to the company, my boss first called it a “merger.” Later, he explained that a merger is always a sale. The bigger business always buys the smaller business. They call it a merger to make it sound nicer to the employees who get “acquired” by the new owner. In those days, when a business sold, the owner always made sure the employees were protected in their “new” jobs. The employees were expected to keep things running while the new owner “transitioned” the business. The new owner always promised a brighter future with better working conditions and more pay.
Now, it is 34 years later. I have been in the computer industry that is now called “information technology” for over three decades. I am no longer the girl they call “kid.” I am now the “ol’ lady.” I was a consultant before we were called “contractors.” I have worked in this industry through four generations of computers and haven’t worked with any “bug free” software since sometime in 1981. We never “released” software quarterly and we certainly never had “daily” builds. We never needed “call centers” for clients to report their problems to. Our clients always had a business card in their Rolodex and could telephone locally for free. AT& T was the telephone company with Baby Bells nationwide. People bought shares in AT&T; not stock. It was a utility company, not a consumer good.
That was then and, of course, now. Thirty-four years later and I’m still counting other people’s compilations. I have never believed what I know now. Important job title. Gender issues. Money problem. Looks important. Now, after all these years, I can really say that I’m bored with people who insult my intelligence just because I’m a woman. I’m bored with insults, innuendo, assumptions and, for the most part, I’m bored with pride. Late at night, like tonight, I tried to entertain myself with the knowledge that I was working on a “contract assignment” for a man who called himself a “system architect” – but he didn’t even know what the conversion file was.