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Subject:Re: A NEW TOPIC (you can read this) From:Amy Welden <awelden -at- SOSC1 -dot- SOSC -dot- OSSHE -dot- EDU> Date:Thu, 29 Apr 1993 10:06:22 -0700
>The tech writing team where I work is composed of two other women. We
>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
>communicate the idea that we are writers -- not "typers"
I've also run into this problem. Part of the problem is the attitude many
Engineers have about tech writers, but I also think the predominance of
women in many tech writer groups increases the problem.
I worked for a company that had two tech writers, both women. Before I
started, the lone writer barely had time to correct the most obvious
mistakes and get the doc to press. The engineers were used to writing
their own doc and having few changes made. After I was hired we had
time to really rewrite and reorganize and improve the doc. Many of the
engineers were glad to have someone else do the writing, but some were
not very open to the idea. The head of the engineering group told us
we weren't qualified to touch the doc because we didn't have an
First, we threatned to quit if this attitude didn't change. We were
willing to carry this threat out. I don't recommend making such a threat
if you're not willing to carry it out. That got their attention and made
them realize how serious we were. The other things we did, I can
Establish standards for your documentation. This way, you can back up any
changes you need to make and it will show that what you do is well thought
out and has a purpose. If your engineers are writing drafts of the doc,
this will give them a target. They'll understand what you're looking for
and won't object to the changes as much.
Give a presentation to the engineers on how to organize a document or how
to write a spec. Provide snacks. Engineers can't resist free food. They'd
watch paint peel if there were snacks involved.
Include engineering on any major doc plan changes. At least get their
input on any changes in design or format. They'll accept changes better
this way and recognize you as the expert.
Send out a survey with your doc so you can track customer satisfaction.
Work with customer support to track help calls. Hopefully, these will
decrease in time.
If engineers ask you to type a letter or paper, tell them you'd be happy
to critique the writing and organization, but the secretary would be a
better person to do the typing. Be firm but friendly. After awhile,
they'll stop asking.
Hang in there and good luck.
Amy Welden Ashland, OR
awelden -at- sosc1 -dot- sosc -dot- osshe -dot- edu