Gwen Barzey: Musician and Computer Programmer

Gwen Barzey, now retired, sums up her experience as one of Canada’s first women computer programmers: “I had it easy. The computer didn’t care that I was a woman or that I was black. Most women had it much harder.”

This story of Gwen Barzey Braithwaite emphasizes her struggles with getting accepted in the academic stream of secondary school education in Toronto, and getting hired for a man’s job, and renting an apartment with her white husband. The mention of her lifelong passion for music and dance as well as her self-advocacy performance, in which she draws in her male relatives as allies to support her schooling and career choices, moves me to name her as an artist and popular educator in the Canadian women’s movement. 

What is most intriguing about this story is that it offers no clues to Gwen’s married name, or that Raganwald is her son Reginald’s home page, and that he is writing about his mother.  Had I not clicked on the highlighted link “son” towards the end of the story, I would not have known. Her son is also an accomplished software programmer.

Reginald Braithwaite, Gwen Barzey's son

 For email, most people call me reg, and you know that this page is hosted at

the answer to an infrequently asked question

Raganwald is my own made-up variation on the Norse name Ragnvald, which is the origin of the Norman name Reginald (if you go back to back to Sanskrit, you find that Ragnvald is loosely related to the Indian name Raj). Braythwayt is a very rare spelling for my surname. I first encountered “Braythwayt” in a P.G. Wodehouse short story when the hapless Bingo Little abandons Honoria Glossop to chivvy Daphne Braythwayt about, and Honoria assumes Bertie loves her and accepts what she thinks is his implied proposal… But perhaps you should read that story for yourself.

~ by artpoped on March 31, 2012.

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