Terry Bailey has a mission: get women and girls up to speed with technology. She says, "Historically, many forms of technology have lost their prestige over time and been relegated subsequently to women and lower paying jobs. The typewriter is a prime example of this. The first secretaries were highly paid men, respected for their abilities to use a new technological wonder - the typewriter!" Clearly, we're not there yet. Bailey seeks to remedy what she sees as a severe deficit in women's grasp of computers and digital communication. Females may use technology, but we are not involved in creating it, a loss for everyone.
Bailey lived in Glendale for years but is now a resident of Pasadena. She's had a remarkable career, usually the only woman in the fields she's selected. Strong in both right- and left-brain pursuits, she's a creative "techie." While the so-called "conventional" wisdom is that science and the arts do not mix, shaking up oil and vinegar takes two seemingly opposite ingredients and makes dressing. Bailey mixes it all up and becomes more than the sum of her parts. I hope she doesn't mind me likening her to delicious vinaigrette!
Another non-culinary way to label the label-defying Bailey is to call her a Renaissance woman. Look at her Web site (www.mediabench.com) and you'll see she covers a lot of territory. She's a digital communication consultant, artist, college lecturer, singer and novelist.
Also a media critic, Bailey points out on her Web site that since January 2005 [Charlie Rose has had had 97 women and 574 men guests on his show]. "I am troubled that women are still not able to define our own world," she wrote.
How can we define things when we're not there? I too have spent a lot of my media years pointing out how much women are "missing" in media action. I think people don't understand what it costs us as people - men and women - to have so many missing minds and ideas in public discourse.
Not a "dabbler," Bailey gets in deeply to whatever field she takes on. She's immersed herself in multimedia evidence production for law firms, film, sound, music and computers. For years she managed the Saul Zaentz Recording Studio which won an Academy Award for "Amadeus."
Bailey left the Zaentz Studio when she was bitten by the computer bug. Why leave film? "Movies were still being made about men and by men. In 1984, only 5 percent of films were directed by women (that percentage holds today in 2006!). I thought that in a new field of computer multimedia, women might stand a better chance, getting in on the ground floor. I also imagined that somehow the computer thing was going to allow me to make my own movies one day, to really express myself, no matter what the status of women in the work world," Bailey said.
However, she's found that the "computer thing" has become just as male dominated as any other field. Her mission is to get women and girls more involved with the development of technology, in whatever work they are in.
When Fifty-Fifty Leadership (FFL) founder, Pauline Field, told me that Bailey will be featured as an FFL speaker at the Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church in Pasadena, I was thrilled. Bailey's mission to include women in technology is right on point. If you are a technically developmentally challenged woman or girl, or work with women and girls, Bailey will inspire you to grow and nurture others. (Fathers and male teachers welcome!)
I told her I'm way behind technologically and it's only getting worse. "Everyone feels that way," she said.
"So it's not a gendered thing?" I asked.
"No, there's a logarithmic effect that's happening now. Technology is moving so fast."
Indeed, many people are way behind the learning curve already, although women and girls are way too eager to say, 'Oh, I'll ask my husband [or boyfriend] to do that for me,'" Bailey said.
Given that traditionally people learn through play, what about computer and video games? Bailey related her experience when an all-male company hired her to work on a girl video game. They'd already created the game. Guess what it was? A bunch of girls sitting around on beds at a slumber party trying to figure out who would date whom. Not exactly useful "play" for our careers. These men didn't want her to create something that girls would want to actually buy. They were more committed to imposing their own archaic and sexist views on what they think girls' interests are.
Bailey is eager to get you involved with her mission. Join her at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Neighborhood Church, 301 N. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena. Call (818) 243-2322 for information or email firstname.lastname@example.org. General admission is $5. FFL members get in for free.
Note: contact writer Ellen Snortland through her website at http://www.snortland.com