Hosting biz-queenpin parachutes Everest
Memset MD strives for gender-balanced IT sector
One of the UK's most prominent female IT executives has joined the first group of skydivers to freefall over Mount Everest.
Kate Craig-Wood is MD of Memset Ltd, "the UK's first carbon-neutral hosting company". She will be making the Everest jump in order to raise money for Computer Clubs for Girls (CC4G), a third-sector outfit which aims to encourage more females to enter the IT sector.
Craig-Wood preparing to take the plunge.
The first trio of skydivers made their jump successfully yesterday, jumping from more than 29,000 feet and free falling for a full minute before coming in to land on the world's highest drop zone. A further 29 parachutists, including Ms Craig-Wood, will make the same jump in coming days.
"It is tragic there are not very many women in the industry, because women are very good at IT," Craig-Wood told CIO Magazine earlier this year. On her website, she points out that there are now fewer female IT workers than there were five years ago, and that the IT sector's gender pay gap is worse than the national average.
Craig-Wood has personally improved these statistics even more than one might expect. In addition to adding a well-paid woman to the IT workforce, she also simultaneously removed one man when she underwent transgender surgery to become female two years ago.
Born Robert, the young Craig-Wood was privately educated and did a degree in Biomedical Science at Southampton before becoming a management consultant and then moving into hosting as an Easyspace exec. In 2002, he co-founded Memset, and the new company did sufficiently well that the expensive transgender procedures necessary to become Kate could easily be paid for from his/her own pocket.
"I went to the best surgeons on the planet and the bill, including facial surgery and a boob job, was around £50,000. I had my genital surgery in Thailand ... everything works ... There is something deeply affirming and fulfilling about sex as a woman, and it’s very, very powerful. Having been on both sides, I now know that women have the better deal," Craig-Wood told the Sunday Times earlier this year.
"I hope to act as a role-model to other would-be female IT entrepreneurs," she adds on her own site. ®
I was thinking about posting another comment, but I’ve been tied up for the last few days. The first AC comment was mine – although it was a puerile joke, it was actually intended to convey genuine respect for what Kate is planning to do.
In my misspent youth, I did a bit of umbrella dangling and rock scrambling – both from respectable heights, although not together. What Kate proposes to do is very hazardous – anyone who thinks otherwise needs to wake up and check their event logs. Everest is not an environment where you get a do over if you make a mistake. If you think otherwise, then you are suffering from complacency or over confidence, and when parachuting, both of these will kill you. 30 years ago, I lost a good friend and a special lady because of over confidence – not hers, someone else’s. Unfortunately, it happens.
I would say to Kate that I am very envious of her; in my salad days I would have jumped at the chance to have a crack at jumping on Everest. I actually found my old jumpsuit in a box in the attic a couple of years ago; it doesn’t fit anymore – must have shrunk in the wash or something.
I would offer some advice, but it’s probably all horribly out of date. I would however suggest you think of what to say when you leap out – my group had agreed on the phase “Airborne”, but in fact what I shouted was “Oh SHHHIIIIIIiiiiiiii………”. If you want something inspiring to read, I would suggest the poem “High Flight” by JG Magee – I still get goose pimples when I read it.
Have a good time Kate – it will be an awesome experience and one that you will remember for ever.
Signing off - wishing you clear skies and safe landings.
@Kate - 'Male' privilege
Thanks for commenting.
I think its a double edged sword :-) On one side our histories have potentially given us advantages that many young girls do not have (However in my case my first computer was actually the family's TRaSh 80 and we all had access to it. I was just the one interested in it. There was no parental conditioning there.). Society is at fault. However by giving special treatment you highlighting the 'unusualness' of women IT and hence reinforcing the stereotype. You're doing the right thing but things are never simple.
BTW many of my 'boy' activities I learnt as a woman, motorbikes, fast cars, snowboarding and so on...
From the horse's mouth...
Re Law: 1) The trip was a holiday and as such the jet fuel burned would have been burnt if I was going somewhere else, and anyway I offset all my emissions (I'm a carbon neutral citizen) - yes not perfect but the best solution in the short term until fusion is working and planes run on hydrogen! 2) The kit was carried up the mountain on foot mainly (and the other jumpers and I also walked most of the way) and 3) the jump ship (a Pilatus Porter) was selected in part because it has one engine and a fairly low carbon footprint.
Re. Ralph B: Actually, I agree with you; I feel that I am advantaged over other women in IT because of my being brought up as a boy and being encouraged to do stereotypical "boy things" like computing - that is in part why I am so keep on CC4G since I feel it is helping to redress the issue of girls being less encouraged towards IT than boys, despite the fact that we badly need more women in technology.
Shameless plug: Since my own gender transition Memset Dedicated Hosting has won PCPro's Best Web host 3 years running and I attribute that in no small part to the good gender balance at the top (ie. me and my brother! :).