Re: A NEW TOPIC (you can read this)

Subject: Re: A NEW TOPIC (you can read this)
From: lpraderio <lpraderi -at- CLIFF -dot- WHOI -dot- EDU>
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1993 15:45:16 EDT


I am a woman tech writer/editor and definitely feel the difference in dealing
with some men engineers, but not all where I work. It's weird but I've mostly
found out that it's in the brain of the person you're dealing with and you have
to stop their crazy pre-conceived thoughts when they arise and become expressed
towards you.

For example, I work with three male engineers: one who I believe views me as
his younger sister who needs instruction (excuse me but I'm beyond 30 now) and
is condescending (even my older brother wouldn't give me the sh.. this guy
slings), while the other two treat me as a talented writer and believe my
communication services are very worthwhile.

My relationship with the latter two is much easier and freer than with the
first nerd and we get work done quickly. I've even had our other tech
communicator (a woman) state that she thinks this first nerd is uncomfortable
around me because I'm a single female and he doesn't know how to relate to my
social status as much as he can relate to married woman. Really twisted as far
as I'm concerned, but hey, all I want to do is my job! Who cares what I look
like or the way of life outside of work that I've chosen for myself.

So what I do is pick up on the first nerd whenever he makes a condescending or
patronizing remark and I do so calmly, clearly, and as non-defensively as I can
(it's really hard sometimes).

For example, he'll adopt the "let's explain it to her very simply because she's
kinda stupid in this area" attitude and I can feel my heckles rising and my lip
curling. So what I do is listen patiently and if I can't stand it cut him off
politely, and say in a firm, calm, and even voice: "I am well aware of the
method in which this..., my concern, lies more with the.... What is your
experience with...." He's gotten better, albeit avoids me some because he
knows I won't let him get away with that attitude.

So, my recommendation is be polite, be firm, and let the quality of your work
speak for itself. (I always make sure these non-believers get the before and
after copies to compare and it surely impresses them when they see their
scribbled notes next to a clean copy, and they feel part of the procedure.)

As a tech communicator, I feel like I dot i's, cross, t's, release meaning
from its burdensome text, and smooth egos along the way. Egos-yuck!

Laura Praderio
Tech comm
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
lpraderio -at- whoi -dot- edu

I think that the day's discussion of "enough is enough" and the
subscribe/unsuscribe debate has gone on long enough.

I have been in the technical writing field about a year now. I would like
to ask some other writers out in the *real world* about the cultural differences
that you have experienced.

The tech writing team where I work is composed of two other women. We deal
mostly with men engineers. I am curious if any of the other women
technical writers have had a difficult time getting respect from their
male co-workers (writers or otherwise). We have found that is difficult to
communicate the idea that we are writers -- not "typers"

I don't want this to turn into a battle of the sexes -- I would like to get
some valuable insight from some of you who have been in the *real world*.

Some quick background: The documents supporting the previous product wer
horrendous at best. Solution: get technical writers. So, as of a little over
a year ago, the tech writing team was formed. The point is that nobody
has gotten used to having a technical writing team.

Any ideas of what we can do to a) bridge a cultural, gender, and
generational gap and b) get people used to us?

Please respond only with helpful suggestions. I do not want this to get ugly.


Kate Jarsulic
Technical Writer

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