Home' LOTL : September 2004 Contents Personal computers (PCs) became fairly popular and
accessible in the 1980s and increasingly in the 1990s
particularly with the growth of the internet. Some of us made
the shift from the golf ball to the computerised typewriters and
then to PCs and Macs mainly for word processing. However,
every year or so there is a new operating system, and it has
become more and more demanding in money, time and
interest, to keep up with developments.
Another problem older lesbians face is that today computer
technology is a very male world. To explore how one woman
became an expert, and to find out a little more about how to
increase older lesbians' access to computing, I spoke to
Rosemary Smith, who has worked in computing since 1967.
She currently runs her Smallbiz Computer Support and is one
of the volunteer team of websisters for the 10/40 Matrix's
Rosemary explained that in 1967 she started as a data clerk,
checking the data input into computers. There were no
computer science courses so it was on the job training. When
Rosemary was able to get into programming in 1970 she took
an aptitude test. Over the years she was promoted to senior
program analyst. With years of experience under her belt she
decided to get the piece of paper, a computer science degree,
that would convince others of her skills.
In her mid 50s restructuring in her workplace found
Rosemary retrenched. Deciding to use this chance to go into
business she found a niche that still has room for expansion,
the small business area. There are simply not enough technical
people out there providing support for the small business or
There are so many different types of computers on the
market at different prices. How do you decide what to buy to
meet your needs? A small business may be someone working
from home as a bookkeeper or accountant, or running a small
shop, or naturopathy ser vice. Then there are the individuals
who need to use their computer for work, such as teachers,
but get limited help from the workplace. Each of these people
has very individual needs.
Computer sales points don't offer workshops like sewing
machine sales or bike shops do. Nor could they offer anything but
the most basic information. As Rosemary explained you need to
individualise the training to suit the person's needs, skill base and
type of programs being used. There are some basic introduction
courses for women run by TAFE. These are an excellent start for
those who have never touched a computer. However, if you
purchase a different system to that used by the college, and let's
face it government funding doesn't always allow TAFE to keep
right up to date; you may still need some individualised help.
For those who have dabbled a little, one way of becoming
more confident in computer use is to access www.olderdykes.org
and participate in their lively talkback forum or access their Links
page. Also you can enter their Short Story Competition (entries
close September 22).
The computer is an increasingly important technology for us
as we age. It can help us overcome the isolation of distance,
reduced mobility (think of the voice activated computers for
sight impaired people), provide information on vital health
matters, or social ser vices. Just think of the computer as a car.
You don't need to be a mechanic to own one but you still have
to learn how to drive it. Everyone can learn to drive, and use a
computer. You just need some lessons and some practice. Cars
are far more dangerous than computers anyway, so don't be
afraid to get into computer technology if you aren't already.
GET WITH I.T.
IF COMPUTER EDUCATION DID NOT
FEATURE IN YOUR WORKPLACE, YOU'RE
OVER 50 ... AND COMPUTER LITERACY
CAN BE PROBLEMATIC. BY SYLVIA KINDER.
Have your say on the Talkback Forum topic "Technology! Do we
want it? Do we need it?" www.olderdykes.org For comments or
suggestions contact Sylvia Kinder firstname.lastname@example.org or
phone (02) 9745 6270
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