piclist 2002\09\23\101817a >
Thread: How many women in PicList ?
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face BY : Russell McMahon email (remove spam text)



>    "Hmmm, your text is (maybe unintentional) a bit negative
>     about those who do not immerse themselves totally in
>     technical details."
>
> I think it is an entirely fair question and not negative,
> although the responses to it might reveal a bit of the
> 'PC' (politically correct) world we are now living in
> where it is not correct to point out that the 'king
> is wearing no clothes' (from Grimm's Fairy Tales?).
>
> How else would you get to the heart of the matter in
> asking the central nature of that question without
> a lot of fancy foot-work in order to remain PC?

I thought similarly about the original but (perhaps unusually ? :-) ) held
my peace.
Let's see if we can separate PC from objectivity (not always possible :-) ).

This is a serious (albeit loquacious) attempt at answering that question.
This is not meant as a put down. I am generally unhappy with "PC" but also
wary of using it as a coverall term for things we don't like. I think there
is a risk of that happening here.

_____________________

> Any explanation to the lack of interest shown by women for Piclist ?

/How many of them are willing to get their "hands dirty" working
and slugging out a problem ?\

This may be seen as starting with an inference that "getting one's hands
dirty" is "real engineering" whereas eg

/Desk-work, report-writing and slaving over a 'hot' simulation
program in a nice cozy office environment with a coffee bar
equipped with 'fridge and vending machines\

is not and that "real men" partake of the former whereas those who favour
the latter are more like "real women" (presumably).

I would not have imagined it to be "being PC" to have felt that this
reflected badly on what appears to be the style of eg Scott Dattalo. Now I
have absolutely no idea of what Scott's "real manly" activities are outside
the list but the image I see onlist is largely of the typical guru (or dare
I say, Nerd). Some might suggest that those who deal largely in software
rather than hardware or even microprocessors rather than heavy current or
even heavy current rather than high power RF or HV transmission or ... are
not "real engineers". But not many I suspect. (I choose Scott as an exemplar
because his "real engineer" status is beyond doubt despite his evident
proclivities :-) ). Now a great many people on this list who are
biologically men tend rather more towards the software/simulation/office
approach than the 4am in the transmitter room approach. Yet they are on this
list. So that doesn't seem an especially good measure of why women are or
aren't attracted.  (It's 1:50am and I've just come up from the dungeon where
I've been wrestling with a light current microcontroller hardware problem.
Dunno where that places me in the continuum :-). )

/Some ... is one thing -
- but a trip out to the transmitter site for an all day job
of changing-out a various *large* RF matching components
and sticking around till after midnight to perform
testing during the 'maintenance window' only to find
other technical problems with the transmitter that
push your leaving the site 'til 4 AM are quite another ...\

Some people may make better life choices than getting involved with jobs
which are liable to place regular unrewarding and antisocial demands on
their lives. Women are notable by often not being i this group when the
activity is a suitably worthwhile one - as almost all women who have raised
children will be able to confirm. It's a matter of priorities perhaps.

/Based on what I have seen on the PIClist for a number of
years now - it seems that a lot of those who post to the
PIClist have had similar experiences in other areas, so the
question is valid - how many women engage/immerse themselves
so totally in a technical field as opposed to some of the
"he-men" who frequent the list?\

Despite my example above there is an element of truth in this, but so what?
Total immersion in life's less worthwhile activities and list membership
don't seem to be well correlated. While there are some on the list like me
and (it seems) Jim who have difficulty getting a life there are many on this
list who are not women but who seem to value many other activities as well
(motorcycling, flying, rocketry are just 3 that come to mind.) So this also
doesn't seem to be a good reason for women not to be involved.

/BTW - there nothing wrong with 'office work' either. I much
prefer it to trudging into the field - but "I will *do* what
it takes to get the job done" - including total immersion
in it .../

I think this was what most caught my attention. This is, it appears to me,
suggesting that "real-women" wont *do* what it takes to get the job done and
won't become totally immersed in any task. There may well be (and I'm sure
there are) generic differences of approach to problem solving between men
and women but the spread of the normal curves for each sex is wide enough
and the means close enough together that the two overlap very well. For
highly visible examples of totally immersed women consider top swimmers (pun
intended) or indeed any top female athlete. There are of course many other
examples but those are highly visible ones. My sister in law was the first
and for a considerable period the only person to obtain honours (A or better
in ALL papers) in a multi year computing course after having been a
"housewife" and mother until about age 35. She seldom if ever sees anything
but the inside of an office but this has no reflection on her willingness
(or capability) to *do* what it takes to get the job done. I suspect that
this was true both before and after her technical brilliance had a chance to
be demonstrated.

To repeat the question

> How else would you get to the heart of the matter in
> asking the central nature of that question without
> a lot of fancy foot-work in order to remain PC?

-Use a genuinely level playing field.
-Not state expectations of women which are clearly not met by many or most
men on the list.

Taken as a whole the feeling I gained was that women were being expected to
meet a hurdle in order to be considered "real engineers" or "real men" or
"probable list members" which was far from that met or expected of the
majority of list members or engineers or men.

2:14am - time for we light current preferring semi engineers to get some
beauty sleep (dearly needed my mirror tells me).



           Russell

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