My Grandma turns 80 next week. She was the first person from her village to go to grammar school and stayed on to be in the first cohort to do A levels, in an age where most girls left school at 15. She was the only girl who wanted to do further maths and had to go to the nearby boys’ school to do it. 56 years later, I was in the coed sixth form of the local independent boys’ school and still the only girl in the further maths class.
Things have changed a lot since my grandma’s time and I was able to go on to study Electronic Engineering at university without turning too many heads. My grandma never got the chance to go to university, although she got a place her family couldn’t afford it. The closest she came was working at Cambridge University making the punch cards for the Maths department in the early days of computing. That is where my grandparents met, so it’s really no surprise that the whole family tends towards geekiness in their own ways.
I still get odd looks when I tell people what I do for a living and I’m the only girl in a team of 20. I’m proud of my grandma for getting as far as she did, but I’m glad the world has moved on, if only a small amount in certain areas. I can only hope that my grandchildren (should I have any) have even more opportunities and fewer prejudices to face.