Welcome to the twenty-second installment of Queer Your Tech with Fun, Autostraddle’s nerdy new tech column. Not everything we cover will be queer per se, but it will be about customizing this awesome technology you’ve got. Having it our way, expressing our appy selves just like we do with our identities. Here we can talk about anything from app recommendations to choosing a wireless printer to web sites you have to favorite to any other fun shit we can do with technology.
Header by Rory Midhani
Have I told you guys I worked as a computer teacher for two years? But not like for elementary schoolers. Like for adults. And so many people would ask me to explain things to them “like I’d explain them to my grandmother.” Even the grandmothers I had as students. Everyone had this notion that grandmas were bad at technology because they were a certain age or gender – females over the age of… like, 40. Which isn’t old, so I never understood it. Women would bad mouth themselves, say they’re too old for this, they’re no good at this. But I don’t think it’s about being old – I think it’s a combination. About age, about gender, about the act of motherhood. Something about all of that makes us – dumb? Inept? Bad at technology? The worst thing is that we, as women, do this to ourselves. To our sisters. If I had a penny for every time I heard one of my students say “I bet your grandmother is better at this than I am” or “I’m about as good at technology as my grandmother” or “explain this like you would explain it to granny” we’d all be living on our super queer commune right now, funded by all those pennies. I got sick of it pretty quickly. If my student wasn’t learning, regardless of age, I had to question what I was doing as a teacher. I did not have to question their age, gender or any other factor about them. I’ve seen it – anyone can learn to use a computer.
Grandma Got STEM is a website that explores that idea and shatters it. From their mission statement: “I would like to counter the implication that grannies (gender + maternity + age) might not easily pick up on technical/theoretical ideas. As a start, I’m planning public awareness / art projects using grandmothers’ pictures+names+connections to STEM.”
And you can submit a picture and a story if you or anyone you know is a badass grandma that worked or works in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM!), just email firstname.lastname@example.org with their picture, name and story.
You guys – this is so important. Women in STEM fields are rare enough. Misogyny in the sciences is real. But women in STEM fields 20, 30, 40 years ago? That’s amazing! That’s a jewel that should be celebrated. My grandmother was a chemist in a pharmaceutical production plant in an age where women didn’t really work. And yes, she looked at my iPad with a bemused scorn in her later years, but still. Grandma got STEM! And everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, can be a tech wizard with enough focus and determination. A computer is really a series of yeses and nos, ones and twos. If you can get yes, no, one, two, then you’re golden. Or should I say, Golden Girl.