Oral history of British science
Coombs, Mary (Part 6 of 9). An Oral History of British Science.
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Coombs, Mary, 1929- (speaker, female)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 6: Comments on birth of daughter Anne in 1961: discovering she was physically handicapped aged about 2; disagreeing with opinions of Great Ormond Street Hospital; died of flu and pneumonia aged six and a half. [01:50] Remarks on adopting Andrew, Paul and Gillian. Remarks on: working until shortly before pregnancy; working slightly shorter hours after birth of daughter; remarks on pay not getting overtime despite long hours. [05:33] Remarks on stopping working in the office at end of 1963, doing a lot of work at home editing training manuals until 1969. Comments on working for ICT in Loudwater teaching BASIC programming to handicapped adults and [08:24] a borstal boy at the Princess Mariana centre Seer Green, some getting jobs afterwards. [10:24] Remarks on circumstances of getting teaching job, working at West Ealing on Glyn Mills payroll, leaving ICT in 1969. [12:06] Remarks on pregnancy: full pay throughout, becoming pregnant shortly before Jenny McLeman. Remarks on George McClemen, who left LEO to work elsewhere, subsequently at BOAC about the same time as JL and PH. Remarks on turning down a job offer from an accountant's firm, considering transferring to LEO Australia where she had family friends. [15:45] Description of Lyons pay grades, implementation of equal pay for men and women in an unequal manner. Remarks on difference between grades of cafeterias at Lyons, no ladies management toilets. [19:00] Comments on not becoming a manager, unlike Helen Clarke: suspecting reverse nepotism because her father was a senior manager, and because she was too useful troubleshooting other's problems. Further remarks on British Oxygen job and not feeling she could make her concerns known. Short discussion about stopping being shy: experience of dealing with doctors about her handicapped daughter; [22:49] growing into job; [23:50] getting married. Remarks on father being surprised when she got engaged. [24:50] Comments on the medical profession and her daughter's handicap: unsympathetic doctor at Great Ormond Street Hospital; possible causes of hereditary condition, Thalidomide or shingles; unpleasant hospital experience in MC's childhood; local consultants Dr Garrow and Dr McCarthy, who pioneered overnight stays for parents; details of daughter's development; [30:37] frequently taking son to casualty. [31:00] Remarks on adopting children: sister-in-law helping find first son, few formalities in private adoption, later children adopted through Children's Society. [32:46] Remarks on working at home: developing manuals, taking three years off when she adopted Gillian, flirtation with Freelance Programmers Limited. Remarks on LEO mergers: having little effect on work, sorry to lose LEO in the name, little contact with English Electric or Marconi. [35:05] Further remarks on working at home: not very productive, missing going into the office, importance of working to her. [37:34] Comments on involvement with SS: aware of SS from press; visiting Imperial college to inspect plotters; scheme for a hospital design project that fell through; best friend's husband knowing project was going to fold and not being able to say. [40:27] Further remarks on working at home, suspecting that she was dyslexic, working on LEO training courses and manuals. [42:44] Remarks on: training courses for new versions of LEO; learning BASIC to teach it; not getting same opportunities for promotion as colleagues. [44:27] Remarks on excitement of early LEO programming, suiting her perfectionist outlook, checking others' programs, reasons for enjoying programming, discussion of teaching programming at LEO and on ICT course to handicapped, feelings on BASIC. [50:30] Further remarks on handicapped programming group, difficulties caused by providing for handicapped children in a normal classroom environment, description of programming class.
Interview with computer programmer Mary Coombs.