Dana Winner

Dana headshot.Best

Hardware, Software; Womenware

“Hardware and software belong to women as much as to men, but when women own them they are more likely to create sustainable social innovations. I call that Womenware.” Dana Winner

I never saw technology as opposing religion and art, as so many people tend to do. I always saw hardware and software as Womenware. In fact “ars” (skills) and “arts” (wisdom works) have synergized my journey, the way that fuel powers the car to transport the driver to her destination. I never suffered an “imposter syndrome” as a woman engaged in IT. That was probably due to my father delineating the boundaries favorably for me in my early childhood. When my Dad took me to work with him in the 50’s and early 60’s, Data Processing was not a “male job”. During my seminal visit to the Pentagon computer room in 1961, I saw the first IBM 7090 and learned about Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. I was deeply affected to learn that a woman was one of the revered leaders of Data Processing. By taking me to work with him, it appears as though my dad had the greatest impact on defining the boundaries for me. Far from suffering an Imposter Syndrome, I feel empowered and authorized to lead in IT.

The most Unexpected Pathway of my life is the one that brought me to the Middle East. Being in the Middle East has been the most Unexpected Pathway. When life took me to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1983, I was very surprised. I had never thought of the Middle East as anything other than a place in the Bible. I lived in Jeddah for one year in 1983. When the opportunity came to go to Kuwait in 1994, I was taken completely by surprise. I was not looking for a change in my life. I was happily settled in a townhouse on Capitol Hill in Washington DC and had a great job with projects at the FBI and US Coast Guard. I was in Kuwait for one year working with the United Nations Development Program. When the opportunity came once again to return to the Middle East, I was finally getting the message that perhaps there was more to this “calling” than I had realized. My return to the region in 2000 was the beginning of becoming “settled” on this Unexpected Pathway. Although it was unexpected, from the moment I met my husband it felt like “home”. Now, I know the truth that “home is where the heart is”.

While my primary purpose for being in the Middle East is bridge building, it is all possible because my Womenware pays the bills. My Womenware skills are focused on information delivery systems. My essential focus on the spiritual purpose of all humanity and all human endeavors informs my mental attitude towards my work. While a project might appear to simply be an “IT Project”, under the hood it is a cultural revolution which may threaten a person’s concept of who they are in relation to others and to Creator. Information supports the creation of knowledge. Like the printing press impact on Europe, the Information Society empowers the powerless, creating social upheaval. While most people find it difficult to go through cultural changes peacefully, it is possible. However, for most people a spiritual transformation is resisted at all costs. It is just very hard work to go through transformation.

Most people and most societies resist change until crisis drives transformation. Consequently, the Change Management plan for any “IT Project” must provide serious and significant support for cultural change management. This includes recognizing when people are “hitting the wall” beyond which they are unable to evolve peacefully – at least in that moment. That is what is happening in the Middle East today. In this atmosphere of severe cultural earthquakes and eruptions, I am carving and paving a Pathway. It is an information highway that supports the growth of the Information Society in the Middle East. I believe that one key to building the Middle East Information Society is Womenware. Women use technology for sustainable society building purposes, rather than because of addiction to technology. Fortunately, I am far from being alone in this challenging endeavor. There are many people following this Pathway. However, in order to succeed, we need millions of people in the Middle East to walk this Knowledge and Information Pathway. Like me, they probably will come this way by many Unexpected Pathways.