back to article Biltong, braais, being an 'IT bitch': A UK woman on working in Africa

Jo Crawshaw is a 28-year-old woman who hails from “just outside the concrete jungle that is Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire”. These days you'll find her all over Africa, because her work for Opera Software means her gig is all about chatting to the continent's carriers. That job's taken her into some pretty confronting …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much has it changed?

    "[...] flippantly say that women working in tech have to either be bitches or flirts [...]"

    In 1970s South Africa white women were were put on pedestal and treated with very formal courtesy. The result was often very hard-bitten women who expected their privileges without needing to reciprocate. I was once halfway across a restaurant car park before realising my date was still in the car waiting for me to go round and open her door.

    At the same time they were generally treated as second class citizens. There was a standard expression that translated to a woman's role as "church, kitchen, and children". A young colleague expressed disgust with the British education culture - saying his new wife only needed enough education to do the household bills and supervise the servants.

    White women were not allowed to sit at a bar - only at tables. Their male companion was expected to fetch the drinks. Two white women in a bar without a male escort were automatically assumed to be prostitutes.

    Our IT project team included an Afrikaans-speaking colleague - one of the very few technical women in the local company. A very atypical feisty lady - whose previous career had included the handling of poisonous snakes.

    As our only Afrikaans-speaker she would go to the local cafe with one of the guys to fetch the team's supper - just before it closed at about 2am. This went on for a few weeks - each time with a different member of the team. Then one night two guys went with her - and the cafe owner made some remark which she later translated as "You're doing well tonight darling".

  2. Valis

    Reading this article it struck me how extremely ignorant and naive this English person is about our country. She may live and work here now but she obviously doesn't have a clue about our culture or our economy. I bet she hasn't even been near a township!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Please explain. One can only see through the prism of ingrained assumptions which both fade and become more categorical as one ages.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        South Africa being a beautiful country with beautiful people

        Until you're carjacked, or your apartment is burgled to the point that they don't even leave a pair of socks behind. I always see this 'waxing lyrical' about South Africa about how beautiful it is. I am surprised she hasn't seen any of these downsides, especially living in Johanesburg probably the place most likely to see it.

        If you've ever thought our political class were stupid, you haven't heard of Jacob Zuma.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: South Africa being a beautiful country with beautiful people

          Exactly. This article is, in my opinion, pure drivel and in no way reflective of the reality of South Africa, except for the complaining about Eskom. She supposedly lives in Gauteng yet didn't complain about E-tolls, crime (and the SAPS), or xenophobic violence. Something isn't right. I mean I know you don't tend to see brutal reality from Sandton, where a white woman who is paid in GBP is most likely living but its not possible to be that blind to the world around you, is it?

          I have a very strong feeling this article is written like an advertisement because she's trying to publicly kiss the cANCer's posterior and call attention to it because her visa's coming up for renewal, she even had a little mandatory blame for apartheid thrown in for good measure. She also made sure to mention BEE, without even mentioning that only a very, very few people who just so happen to be connected cadres in the ANC, COSATU, and SACP have had any kind of an impact on their lives because of it. I don't care for Malema's racism or pseudo-Military bullshit in the EFF, but he's dead on about the inequality and corruption (see the Arms Deal, Finish and Klaar Selebi, Limpopo Textbooks, Guptagate, Nkandla, etc etc) that the ANC serves to perpetuate.

          I love South Africa, but I'm not blind to the mess that they're in back there, which could have been avoided but Polokwane and Showerhead happened. Not that Mbeki was too much better.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      She's an IT worker in Jo'burg.

      The South African mining engineers I work with don't have a clue what it's like to be an unemployed teen in Belfast or a crofter in Orkney - why should they ?

    3. RatX

      She has only positive things to say, and she's working towards the improvement of the technological footprint in Africa. She makes the most of all the good things which are on offer, and doesn't harp on ad nauseum about Eskom, the ANC or etolls. What a pleasant breath of fresh air!

  3. A Ghost

    If I met a woman at a bar..

    and casually asked her what she did, and she casually answered me: "IT Bitch", I would be more than a little impressed. On both counts.

    First of all for being a girly that knows more than how to 'switch it off and switch it on again' (I jest), and secondly for having a sense of humour and pre-empting the idiot men and lad's prejudices.

    Apart from that it just sounds 'cool'.

    "Oh, so what do you do?"

    "I'm an IT Bitch!"

    "Fancy a pint of real Ale?"

    "It's on me"

    I live in a fantasy land, I know.

    I used to hang out a lot with the 'Saffas' as they were affectionately know amongst themselves, in London. The Australians were 'Ozzies', the New Zealanders were 'Kiwis', and the Sith Afrikins, well, now you know.

    I learned to tell the difference between an Ozzie and a Kiwi accent 9 times out of ten, which is pretty imprissive (sorry) impressive by anyone's standards. What surprised we was the fact that I would mix up the Kiwis with the Saffas, more often than not. A Kiwi accent can be as much like a Saffa accent as it can an Ozzie one, but very few took offense, saying that they couldn't always tell themselves.

    Great people, loved them. In fact I think I ended up liking the girls/women more than the boys/men. They were just so damn feisty and in with the lads. I saw them treated with a lot of respect by the men. I think they knew not to stick their fingers into the hornet's nest, so to speak.

    I'm off. Hopefully I offended somebody with this post. (Actually that was not my intent at all, but there's a lot of special little flowers out there)

    Actually, I've had a brainstorm. I'm going to stop printing those 'No, I WON'T fix your computer for you!' T-Shirts, and just start a new line of 'IT Bitch!', in pink and red or course.

    I mean, would you dare ask a woman what she did if she was wearing a big f off 'IT Bitch!' T-Shirt? I for one, would not. Free Ale or no.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: If I met a woman at a bar..

      It's easy; kiwis hiv no vwls. Saffas have vowels but only use them in maaaaaaaaaaan

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If I met a woman at a bar..

        Do South African women still look at someone's baby and then say "shame" as an expression of approval?

        After 40 years I find that I irrevocably picked up two bits of SA English idiom. One is to say "come with" - rather than "come with me/you". The other when asked how you are - is to reply "ok - self?"

        1. Mayhem

          Re: If I met a woman at a bar..

          Heh, the big one for me was learning the difference between now, just now and now now.

          Now now means as soon as I can, definitely today at least.

          Just now means in the next day or so.

          Now means eventually. Maybe. Possibly never.

          "Sure, I'll do that now" literally meant it wasn't going to happen.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting to see an outsiders perspective. Us Saffers do tend to be a negative bunch at times as evidenced upthread.

    One thing I have noticed in terms of gender relations is that women who just get the job done are respected and have the inside track on promotion thanks to BEE. If they go in with a chip on their shoulder and a bad attitude they can expect to get torn apart.

  5. werdsmith Silver badge

    Milton Keynes

    Hmmm, MK is actually less of a concrete jungle than most other towns of a similar size.

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