Carol Covin

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I was intrigued by your concept that senior women may not be given credit for having worked in STEM fields, in people’s mental images of grandmas sitting in rocking chairs with aprons on and knitting in their laps.

I was a software engineer for 25 years, coming into a field that welcomed women mathematicians who had grown up on farms during World War II, according to Grace Hopper, one of the inventors of COBOL, and that industry friendliness still held when I entered the field in the late 60s, for men or women who were strong in math, foreign languages or music.

I am sending you a link to an overview about me from my blog:

http://newgrandmas.com/about

I direct you, specifically to a case study for which I won a STEM award at George Washington University’s graduate business class for their Hot Momma’s Project.

http://hotmommasproject.com/2010/08/carol-l-covin-2010-hot-mommas-stem-award-winner

I am the author of 7 books, the first six of which profiled companies that hired software engineers, based on interviews with the top computer executives in the companies. Many of those profiles, though now outdated, can still be found at http://www.20minutesfromhome.com

I am now a grandma to two darling seven-year-olds, who are helping me test my 10-minute science activities for an upcoming book “Can You Bend a Pencil: 10-Minute Science to Delight Your Grandchildren” and next year’s “10-Minute Math” for which I am writing weekly posts now.

As for my experiences as a software engineer, I took the IBM programmer’s aptitude test in college, after my then-boyfriend, later husband, took the test and was hired by IBM.  But, in the thinking of the day, I wanted to pass the test, but not embarrass my boyfriend by doing better than he had. Needless to say, you can’t calibrate a timed test that closely and IBM did not offer me a job.

Later, I took a language aptitude test for the National Security Agency because I wanted to use my Chinese language experience from the degree I was studying for in Far Eastern Studies. In the interview, they told me I could be a programmer, because many of the same programmer’s aptitude questions, which I recognized from the IBM test, were on the language aptitude test. By then, I didn’t want to do the same thing my boyfriend was doing and said I wanted to be a Chinese translator instead.

But, boyfriend, then husband, got drafted and I dropped out of school for three years while he was in the Army.

When I came back, the NSA job was gone, but by the time I graduated, I had decided that programming looked like fun, took still another programmer’s aptitude test, this time for the Navy, and they hired me.

I’ve always thought the computer field was gender-neutral. A keyboard can’t tell whether a man or woman is keying in the instructions.

Skip ahead through a whole career in the software field, as a programmer, analyst, instructor, project manager, and finally, marketing director, because the company I worked for then, an early inventor of wearable computers, recognizable now as Google glass, said they needed me to explain their technical product to potential customers and to help line up developers to write applications for it.

I left the computer field to start my own publishing company to continue the series of five computer books I’d written at that point on how to get the best computer job for your skills and interests.

That was the Spring of 2000, just as the computer industry was crashing, spectacularly bad timing to start a publishing company focused on technical jobs books, although I did get a sixth book out, Twenty Minutes from Home: The Best Computer Jobs in America.

After a few years of exploring other businesses, I settled on readying a promising cancer treatment for clinical trials. The last several years have been focused on that effort, even including my seventh book on grandmothers and communication with the parents of their grandchildren (Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers) and upcoming books on activities for grandchildren, which were written to underwrite the cancer treatment research.

I now blog six days a week to help grandmothers think about the stories they want to tell their grandchildren by telling my own stories and reminding them of the things that have happened in our lifetime and to have some fun with their grandchildren by engaging them in 10-minute activities, many based on science or math.

Carol Covin, “Granny-Guru”

 
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photo credit: Chip Deyerle.

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Reading to grandchildren, Natalie and Christopher Covin

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