How we refer to older women in our language would be translated literally as “the one who holds things together”. Yet, we have forgotten that in the modern world. We are no longer proud of our grey, we hide it with dye in our hair. We go to aerobics classes to try to keep the figure we had in our twenties. Every magazine tells us to try to look younger rather than taking pride in our status as grandmothers and elders.
I think when she said that was the moment I decided that Debbie Gourneau was the perfect person to hire as our cultural consultant for the Ojibwe content in our game. Debbie is, as the old saying goes, a woman who is comfortable in her own skin. She doesn’t feel a need to be one whit different than she is.
She is also correct that in many instances, older women ARE those who “hold things together”. I love my children very much and, as our Dakota cultural consultant, Dr. Erich Longie said when he came to visit one day, “It’s clear your family revolves around you.” I actually knew exactly what he meant and what Debbie meant also. In many families – I would say most – the mother is the hub of the family, just like those airline hubs where I spend FAR too much time. You know, like if you fly Delta you’re probably going to change planes in Atlanta.
My children see each other at Christmas, at Easter, Mother’s Day when they come to see me and they are all there. I’m the one that texts reminders, “Call your sister, it’s her birthday”, who helps pay for weddings, reminds people to send gifts to graduates, tells one person to do her homework, reminds another to call her accountant and hollers at all parties involved until they make up after an argument. It’s a mom thing.
The same is true of running a business. I spent all last week (when I REALLY wanted to be coding) doing a breakdown of our next game into a hundred different tasks, literally. The artist will draw this, one of our cultural consultants will read this dialogue, the animator will create a video, the math problem will be this, the 3-D game challenge will be that. It is the same skill of pulling people together, remonstrating when they make a mistake, helping people develop skills, seeing what we’ll need in the future to all grow together.
It’s no surprise to me at all that women over forty are running technology start-ups. It seems like we’re a natural fit.