Most of my professional life I worked in Information Technology. It was a relatively new profession at the time – 1970. I had taken one of the first ever computing units offered at Monash University. There was no computing degree offered at that time, the unit was offered as a tool for other mathematics and science subjects. Because I had enjoyed the unit, I decided to follow the work in my career. When I started work, there were seven of us starting as trainee computer programmers starting with the company – four females and three males. After marriage, and around six years out of computing, I returned to full time work. Th industry had changed in just six years. No longer was it seen as a gender-neutral industry. It appeared that those of us who had started in the industry just a few years earlier had taken time out for family, and so it was the males who were moving up the career ladder in Information Technology. It led to the industry being perceived as male dominated. for the last thirty years of my professional life, I was one of the few women – an odd one out.
At one time, early in my time working with the Public Service, I was selected to participate in a development program that lasted 15 months. This comprised of three intensive two-week training sessions, with three placements outside our traditional working professions. There were around 15-20 of us participating in the program. Since the others on the program were career public servants, the idea was for them to find work in different private sector organisations. I had only joined the Public Service twelve months earlier, so for me the idea was to work in other areas of the Public Service. This would give me the opportunity to find out more about how the service operated. My first two placements were within the same organisation; the third was with ATSIC (the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission). I was working in the Office of Indigenous Women. Here I was the only European person on the team – and one of few white people in the organisation. During this development program, I was the odd one out in two ways – the only participant who had spent all their career previously working in the private sector, and the only non-aboriginal in the Office of Indigenous Women.