Information Technology (IT) is a traditionally male-dominated field. The stereotypical programmer is usually a twenty-something male who stays up late into the night computing in a room illuminated only by cathode rays and the florescence of Mountain Dew. Such an image never stopped Senior Manager, Client Services of Trent’s IT Department, Anne Parker from entering the field and rising to the top.
Parker got her start in IT teaching classes on Administrative Programs (word processors, spreadsheets, etc.) at Fleming College part-time while working primarily in health care. She first came to Trent in 2001 laying out the physical infrastructure of the Trent-Fleming SuperBuild project, and became an official staff member in 2004. For nearly three years, until last August, she was the Acting Director of IT.
In an interview with editor Sara Ostrowska, Parker reported on how far the field of IT has come regarding the acceptance of women since her start: “my first introduction to computing was at a vocational school and I was the only female in the class and I think it’s just kind of that stereotypical male-dominated field, but it’s changing, and I think it’s changing from both senses because women are very welcomed and encouraged now to enter that field, whereas a few years ago when I was entering IT it certainly wasn’t as common and I think it was less welcomed.”
Parker continued that women at the time she entered IT “definitely had to work a little harder … it seems that there was still a few hurdles that had to be overcome to really prove that you were there.”
The old IT stereotype is also challenged by Parker with respect to motherhood. When Parker’s son was in Kindergarten she would go into work when he was at school, and work from home otherwise. “I found IT was actually very helpful for me because I could do that … I could still be plugged in if necessary but I could still take care of [my son],” she reports. In this way, Parker challenged the arbitrary gendering of both the field of IT and that of parenting.
Parker is an excellent role-model for women fighting to earn their place in traditionally male-dominated fields of work or study. She is certainly proof that any goal can be achieved by women in these fields, and that there really is no difference between what a man, woman, or any person can do.