Sandy Miranda on Women at Apple

Source: Interview with Sandy Miranda, 14 April 2000.

Pang: I've heard bits and pieces about things changing some after the company goes public-- nice cars showing up in the parking lot, that sort of thing. You hear today about when some small company goes public, you've got everyone spending as much time going to their Schwab accounts or eTrade and checking the stock as much as they're working. But did it make much of a difference?

Miranda: Part of what Apple is about is getting rid of the patriarchy, and I don't mean male, or men, but that part in all of us that doesn't help us grow. What happened was, they empowered people and especially they empowered women, and I remember that I eventually ended up with about $X after I got all my stock. It wasn't a huge amount, because I came in as a low-level regular writer, but by the time I had cashed in the first round of whatever stock they gave me I had about $X I went and bought a house. And I'm on my fourth house now. It made my life work, financially, and I was very careful about investing.

And, there was a whole bunch of us women in technical writing and we all supported each other very strongly, and we all talked and we all got together and said. "What should we do with this stock?" and we all said, "We should all go and buy houses, and this is how we will take care of ourselves and be financially wise." So we all talked about it and helped each other ,and we all went out and bought little teeny houses with the stock we got. People who were careful ended up with twenty, thirty, and I'm very good with stock. I got as much as anybody did because I did it at just the right time.

So there was this whole sense of us being empowered and being responsible for the empowerment and doing something with it, and especially-- I mean, it was a great group, all of us, but especially for the women it was this revolutionary empowerment with not being a part of the old system, and that's part of what still goes on there. It's like we're not going to take, we're not going to accept the old way of doing things. We're going to be whatever we want to be, and be empowered. So people were very excited. It was the original IPO, right?

Pang: In some stories about the development of the Macintosh, there's some macho language that gets used to describe who these people were and what they thought about themselves-- as pirates and so on. Were there any problems that women had at Apple, that flowed from any sort of sense of programming or other work there being a kind of masculine activity?

Caroline Rose and Susan Kare also talks about gender and Apple culture in their interview.

Miranda: Well, by the time I was really involved with the Mac, I was a contractor, a consultant. So by that time I was no longer on staff. But I can tell you that I personally never heard anybody say ever that there was a problem with that. And I have experienced only empowerment. And I always thought it was cool, the pirate thing.

So personally, I never had any feeling about that whatsoever, my feeling about Apple was there were so many women in high places that the place was equally run by women. It was very unusual, so quite the opposite of what you're saying, I've never heard anyone say that. But then, like I say, by the time I was involved by the Mac group, I was coming in on projects as a consultant, so I don't know what it was like to be there day by day, but when I was for four years up to that point, everyone was just like-- I mean there were women in very high places there, and happy about it.

Pang: So in some other less supportive sorts of environments, the sorts of things that you describe, like getting together to talk about investments, could be more of a defensive thing. But it wasn't the case here.

Miranda: Well it was all casual, the way we got together but no, I never experienced any of that myself. I just, I never saw any discrimination because of that. If anything it was the opposite, that women were really pushed into positions of power and that was a goal, so I was always very proud of that.

Pang: Why do you think that was? Why is it that women got into these positions early on, and were pushed in those sorts of ways?

Miranda: I think it's because they took people on intelligence and creativity, and not on their sex.

And as we know, there were at that time a lot of women running around, s there always have been, who are brilliant, and they were ready to go. And in those days, they were really ready to go, and they were flocking to Apple, and boy they came in droves. Creative people would make a beeline for there, so we had the best and the brightest, and it was fun. And the exhilaration of this was happening all along too. It was very obvious that it was very likely that you'd be reporting to a women and there's a certain, I mean it's a stereotype and a generalization, but in general, there's a tone that goes with that that is very open. Yeah.

Pang: Had you had women supervisors at USGS? Was this a new thing for you.

Miranda: At high levels, yeah, and really bright people. I don't think I ever had a-- all my managers and their managers I think were women. It was kind of a big joke, that Apple was-- part of what made it different, it was a new vision.


Document created on 20 June 2000;