Re: A NEW TOPIC (you can read this)

Subject: Re: A NEW TOPIC (you can read this)
From: sanders_j -at- TBOSCH -dot- DNET -dot- GE -dot- COM
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1993 14:54:59 EDT

Well, I have been in the tech writing/communication field for a little over two
years, so I think I'm in the same generation, but I'm a guy, so I don't know if
my observations will really help you. The discrimination you face as women isn't
something I feel capable of making suggestions about. Discrimination on the tech
writing end, I can throw in some comments.

The first company I worked at was a software firm, and the programmers were all
women, several years removed from me in age and experience. It was a small
company, so some menial tasks are understood, but I was asked to not only to
draft the occaisional letter, file things, and run errands, but to answer the
phones on occaision. There wasn't really a lot of support for the documentation
particularly in respects to a professional review-process. At the time, I didn't
think an awful lot about it, just grumbling unhappily when stuffing envelopes.
Now, I realize that to them I was more of a person performing educated trans-
scription, not someone actively involved in the creation of an important part of
their product.

My solution at the time was to ignore it, not something you can probably do in
your situation. I think the key problem is that they don't perceive you as being
on the same educational or professional level, when you've probably had just as
much education. Anything you can do to make your dealings with them more formal
and professional might help. Creating a solid review schedule, issuing regular
memos on the state of the documentation, refusing to do menial tasks (when you
can), all might help. Try looking through the STC newsletters, as I think they
may have had an article on this subject a few issues ago. If you get ahold of
the STC newsletters, you might even try leaving a few of them around the office.
There's nothing like a professional journal to lend professionalism.

Other than that, all I can recommend is wait. It generally takes time to change
attitudes, particularly when the people who hold them don't realize or don't
care if their opinion hurts or belittles other people.

Good Luck.

-John Sanders
GE - Schenectady

Harmony thru better electrons!

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