Skaidrite Darius

Citation for an honorary degree - Doctor of the University
12 December 2019

 

Chancellor, it is my privilege to present to you for a degree of the University, Mrs Skaidrite Darius.

Mrs Darius' career in computer science, including data processing and computer administration for ANU, began in the 1950s. She won a male-only advertised job after 35 males failed the entrance exam. She completed her testing through International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).

At the time she was only entitled to 80 percent of the pay rate awarded to men. Mrs Darius became supervisor of data processing within a few years and was still the only female working in data processing at ANU during the 1970s. She overcame several male prejudices throughout her career including exclusion from male-only clubs where her colleagues met and taking five months leave without pay in lieu of maternity leave.

Mrs Darius is an icon of ANU. She is a humble trailblazer. She worked tirelessly and fiercely throughout her career and this paved the way for future females within computer science. She believed there should be no distinction between women and men in the workplace, and she proved this truth through her actions.

Mrs Darius began her career working for the John Curtin School of Medical Research as an accounting machinist. After winning the job at the University's new IBM data processing team she quickly climbed the male-only ranks. During this time, she worked tirelessly on call and throughout the night. 'The computer' was reserved for academics during the day which meant all administrative processes needed to be completed during the hours of midnight and 4am. She earned the respect and support of her male colleagues who rallied behind her when she asked for leave to give birth and care for her child in 1963. Upon return to work following her leave, she was not afforded any flexible working arrangements and spent approximately half of her wages on childcare. Remaining determined, she won the position of head of data processing when her male boss retired in the 1970s. Mrs Darius continued working at the ANU until her retirement in the 1990s.

Mrs Darius was undeterred in the face of adversity and overcame many challenges. She has led an extraordinary life, emphasised by her time at the ANU, carving out a place for women in male dominated fields and setting a new standard in gender equality.

Chancellor, it is with pleasure that I present to you Mrs Skaidrite Darius, that you may confer on her the degree of Doctor of the University honoris causa for her exceptional contribution to the University, to computer science, and to gender equality.

 

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A story about Skaidrite can be found on the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science website, here