When I was young, there were three careers I alternated between wanting to pursue.
The first was a geologist, I liked rocks and gem stones and was fascinated by them. The parents bought me DK books on geology, I had a fine collection of gem stones and fossils and when we went to museums I gravitated to where the shiny rocks were.
The second was a mechanic. My dad worked in transport and machinery removals and when I was young, he did a night course in pneumatics and hydraulics. I would spend evenings looking through his course work at the intricate diagrams of pneumatic systems, completely fascinated by them. The third was a hairdresser, for all my tomboyish-ness I did love the idea of getting to spend my days playing with people hair.
In the end, I did none of these things.
The geologist in me died, somewhere around age eleven. I don’t remember why, but I think I just fell out with the idea. Even now though, if I pass a new age shop with big hunks of amethyst in the window I will stop and stare at them for a while. That left the mechanic and the hairdresser. I was strongly discouraged by my schools career advisers who said that learning to be a mechanic would be a waste of my time, because as a girl, no one would want to employ me to fix their car. (Which if I could go back in time, I would have some stern words for that lady!)
In the end I was very close to going to do hairdressing then I got wind of a course in ‘Media Production’. I could go learn to be a camerawoman or a video editor or a web designer and have a fabulous life as a media darling. Having a disposition towards the outlandish (and because I fancied myself somewhat of an Eddie), I decided this was the course for me. So that is what I went and did. In September 2000 I started at (what was then called) Huddersfield Technical College on the BTEC ND in Media Production, a very vague and general two year course covering all aspects of media.
Fast forward thirteen years later and that diploma isn’t worth the paper it is printed on. I am lucky, in that now I work in marketing, for a company who supply laboratory and science supplies and equipment, that was founded and is run by two women who excel in their fields. As I have said previously, I have had a fair few jobs in a vastly different fields so to finally land on my feet in a job where my talents can be put to use is great, but it has taken a long time.
Which brings me to…
If only there had been something like Lady Geek’s ‘Her in Hero’ campaign when I was younger. Imagine if a young Farquharson, at 13/14 had been shown the many unsung women of the world who have truly made a difference in science, technology and media, I think I would have been inspired and would have followed a different educational path. It would probably have been a creative path, but one in coding or engineering instead.
Although it is well documented that I am not the greatest fan of children, it doesn’t mean I don’t care about the collective futures of them, especially woman kind. I am so lucky to be a part of a strong, bold community of women (mainly on twitter, but also IRL) that includes scientists, artists, coders, writers, mothers, teachers, designers (and more) and I hope that we can help broaden the horizons of young ladies everywhere! The world needs more Ada Lovelaces!
So, who are your female tech heroes? Did you veer off your chosen track because of bad advice from close minded people or how have you inspired a younger generation to take up the science and/or technology mantle? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Note: This blog was originally posted on my own blog on October 15th – Ada Lovelace Day. IGGPPC are an affiliate of the Little Miss Geek Campaign. All IGGPPC staff believe that education and getting more ladies into tech and science fields is important and we are very proud to be associated with such a fantastic movement! ~Farq