Reply to post: How much has it changed?

Biltong, braais, being an 'IT bitch': A UK woman on working in Africa

Anonymous Coward
Anonymous Coward

How much has it changed?

"[...] flippantly say that women working in tech have to either be bitches or flirts [...]"

In 1970s South Africa white women were were put on pedestal and treated with very formal courtesy. The result was often very hard-bitten women who expected their privileges without needing to reciprocate. I was once halfway across a restaurant car park before realising my date was still in the car waiting for me to go round and open her door.

At the same time they were generally treated as second class citizens. There was a standard expression that translated to a woman's role as "church, kitchen, and children". A young colleague expressed disgust with the British education culture - saying his new wife only needed enough education to do the household bills and supervise the servants.

White women were not allowed to sit at a bar - only at tables. Their male companion was expected to fetch the drinks. Two white women in a bar without a male escort were automatically assumed to be prostitutes.

Our IT project team included an Afrikaans-speaking colleague - one of the very few technical women in the local company. A very atypical feisty lady - whose previous career had included the handling of poisonous snakes.

As our only Afrikaans-speaker she would go to the local cafe with one of the guys to fetch the team's supper - just before it closed at about 2am. This went on for a few weeks - each time with a different member of the team. Then one night two guys went with her - and the cafe owner made some remark which she later translated as "You're doing well tonight darling".

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