MEET CHRISTINE DORMAAR, RECENTLY-APPOINTED
GLOBAL ICT MANAGER AT TAIT COMMUNICATIONS
IN CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND. WHILE WOMEN
REMAIN DRAMATICALLY UNDER-REPRESENTED IN
SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL FIELDS ACROSS THE
GLOBE, CHRISTINE IS BOTH TECHNICAL BY DISCIPLINE,
AND ALSO OPERATES WITHIN A TECHNICAL INDUSTRY.
Mention “positive discrimination” or “gender quotas” and
it becomes clear Christine Dormaar is not a fan. While she
acknowledges the existence of gender bias, and that women
in technology may not necessarily be taken seriously, her
personal success strategy focuses on confidence, resilience
and self-awareness. “I’ve never been too concerned about other
people’s opinions of me as long as I get the job done,” she says.
“And I’m not easily put off. ”
Unlike the experiences of many women of her generation,
her parents supported her natural curiosity, which lead to an
interest in all things scientific and technical. It was while she
was still at high school she experienced a light bulb moment
that tapped in to her innate sense of equality – and not a small
amount of competitiveness.
“I was visiting a friend at the time,” she says. “He was working in
a computer operations role and I asked him what he actually did.”
“You wouldn’t understand it,” he told her. “It’s really technical.”
The relationship may have been doomed, but that patronising
and ill-advised comeback did Christine a huge favour, increasing
her determination that she would master any technology that
she put her mind to. And it set in motion a successful career
spanning more than three decades.
This was an era when opportunities for young women were
limited, and many of her school friends were married with
children by the time they were 21. But there were also female
friends who launched themselves into scientific careers,
such as chemical engineering and biochemistry.
Lacking a clear direction after her business studies, Christine
found herself in typically female jobs at the time, including
brief work experience as a typist in a Government Department.
“But I was always the one who fixed the photocopier and the
computers,” she says. Her path was determined back in the mid
80s, during a stint for a large IT-based service provider, where she
became fascinated by the giant, humming mainframe computers.
While Christine’s preference is for her signature high heels, she
has done her time in steel cap boots as well, as head of IT for
a mining company. Claiming neither victimhood nor entitlement,
her footwear choices reflect her leadership ethos: personal
choice and personal responsibility.
She is quick to point out however, we all lose if industries,
businesses and governments neglect the opportunities
presented by women in technology. “Ignoring, dismissing or
side-lining 50% of all human potential makes no sense.” she
says, at the same time acknowledging that other women may
have a harder time than she has experienced.
So how can the technical and science disciplines access this
potential? Despite a lack of female role models in her own
early experience, Christine identifies this as the most important
element for change. “That’s how, as women, we will redefine our
understanding of success and career,” she says.
She also advocates outreach, such as road shows, to positively
influence all young people – not just young women. She sees
this as a natural way to tap into their natural aptitudes and
interests, by introducing them to exciting newer branches of
science, like biotechnology and robotics. “In their lifetimes, who
knows what new directions science and technology will take?”
she says. “But it is crucial that women are part of it.”
“Ignoring, dismissing or
side-lining 50% of all human
potential makes no sense,”