Re: Help Systems & Gender Differences

Subject: Re: Help Systems & Gender Differences
From: Len Olszewski <saslpo -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 1994 15:47:54 -0400

Caryn Rizell clarifies and extends some of her earlier points:

> I think I should clarify some of the comments I made about
> how men and women respond to the idea of 'help'.


> 2) But it is also true that men and women *do* respond differently
> to the same situation in most cases. Men and women do
> have different ways of communicating and interacting.


> 3) Given that *most* men act one way and *most* women act another
> way, what do we do with that in regards to what we write
> and how we write it? Has it made a difference in how we
> approach our audience? If we know our audience is mostly
> male or mostly female, do we write differently?

To be honest, I've never explicitly considered the gender of my
audience. The best I've done is postulate the skill level and product
mix familiarity of my audience, and to the extent that these
characteristics are derivative or indicative of gender, then I've
indirectly considered gender.

Given that I'm unfamiliar with the work Andreas Ramos cited, I wonder
out loud (inviting comment from any who want to respond) how best to
incorporate the consideration of gender in my audience analysis, given
that our software products have users of each gender. Are you saying,
Caryn, that certain forms of documentation are most likely to be used by
people of particular genders, and that anticipating and planning for
that would enable the writer to make those forms more useful?

Or did I, as is so common, miss the point completely?

|Len Olszewski, Technical Writer |"Thou gettest no bread with one |
|saslpo -at- unx -dot- sas -dot- com|Cary, NC, USA| meatball." - Robert Sheckley |
| Opinions this ludicrous are mine. Reasonable opinions will cost you.|

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