RE: Re: Gender Issues in Technical Communication

Subject: RE: Re: Gender Issues in Technical Communication
From: "Teasdale, Steven (IndSys,Pwr Mgt,UR)" <Steven -dot- Teasdale -at- indsys -dot- ge -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2001 14:28:01 -0400

Penny Staples wrote:

Having read this article, I agree with you - it made me angry. The entire
of the writer's argument is based upon circular reasoning, particularly
the end.

It's an extremely biased piece of writing that is trying to pass itself off
reasonable. Replace "men" with "white" in this essay, and "women" in this
with a minority cultural or ethnic group, and see how it reads. For those of
too busy to read the whole thing, here's a paragraph to try it on:


Hi all:

I have been looking at article in question, and Penny is absoulutely right.
I find it interesting that the author follows the First Rule of making
irrational arguments appear rational and the unscholarly scholarly --
blather on about Thomas Kuhn and paradigm shifts:

"What does seem to be clear, from the record so far, is that
women do not have this capacity to innovate. They bring great
to developing what Thomas Kuhn called "normal science," but they
have no record of creating the "paradigm shifts" that lead in new

Not true... for example, consider the contribution of (the highly
underregarded) Sophia Kovalevskia in laying the foundations of modern
analysis, the work of Marie Curie, etc. Moreover, the identification of
paradigm shifts is so subjective (doesn't Kuhn provide 20+ different
definitions of paradigm in _Structure_?) that one can easily eliminate
almost any of them, save a few, from contention to prop up a weak argument.

As always, Kuhn's ideas are misconstrued to provide the appearance of rigour
and rationality. This always enraged him during his lifetime.

The passage later says:

It has been
men who have invented things and found challenges in nature, such
as climbing high mountains or sailing alone around the world.

What does climbing mountains or sailing around the world have to do with
scientific innovation, specifically with Kuhn's epistemology of science
misused as 'evidence' earlier in the _same paragraph_? Nothing. (a great
deal of leisure time and money would seem to be pre-requistes for these type
of activities, not the ability towards intellectual innovation).

The article is bombastic nonsense -- it really falls apart with all the
invective against so-called "radical feminists". It would be good for a
laugh, if people actually didn't take this stuff seriously.


P.S. Just noticed this article was published in the New Criterion... the
last bastion of snooty boring dull white guys over 60 (and those who want to
be them!)... it figures!


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