Re: Gender and Tech Writing

Subject: Re: Gender and Tech Writing
From: Chuck Banks <chuck -at- ASL -dot- DL -dot- NEC -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1993 12:00:27 CDT

>these positions for an electronic posting). But has anyone
>looked into these correlations seriously?

>Randy Harris, U of Waterloo, raha -at- watarts -dot- uwaterloo -dot- ca

Though I'm not a researcher, I think you're looking in the wrong area.
There's probably more of a correlation with the growing availability of
computer technology to non-technical customers, who have demanded
clearer, more user-focused software and documentation.

Anatole Wilson


I agree with Anatole that one cause of the shift has been
technological. Another has been economic. The last minute
documenters delay the release of the product package costing sales.
Earlier integration of documentation into the development cycle
has improved product delivery dates.

The quality first movement and the trade press have also
contributed to the economic equation by reviewing documentation
as part of the product and pointing out costs to the customer of
poor documentation. The sooner documentation developers enter
the product development cycle, the more accurate and complete
the documentation is.

The gender shift itself has, in part, resulted from the
shift of technical writing from a retread assignment for engineers
scientists, and technicians (which it was in the fifties and sixties)
to a unique profession as it is today. Most post WWII engineers
et al were male. Naturally, if you retread male development
personnel as documenters, you get male dominated documentation

Today, college students can obtain degrees in technical
writing and persue that profession as an original goal rather
than a second avocation. With the growing numbers of women in all
walks of working life, it seems natural to me that the number of
female technical writers would increase.

Now, if only male-dominated upper management can learn
to regard these women as viable managerial candidates.

Chuck Banks
NEC America, Inc.

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