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The ongoing discussion of how men differ from women in their
communication styles seems to be tightly focused on
socialization theories ("Society tells little boys to
be tough and never ask for directions when lost" -- forgive
the hyperbole here, but you get the point).
I would suggest that we also consider the biological
foundation of sexual differences. No matter what
society imposes, the biological substrate remains the
same. (For scientific evidence of this, please see the
studies collected and/or described in Michael Hutchison's
book _THE ANATOMY OF SEX AND POWER_.)
In terms of technical communication, whether on-line or
on-paper, there may be NO DIFFERENCES between the needs of
men and the needs of women. Only in the social realm,
I believe, are the differences in communication styles and
needs really significant. My wife, who is a programmer,
'cusses' the documentation just as much as I do. And when
we discuss technical issues, our communication is clear.
However, when we talk about non-technical issues, our
communication styles and needs are clearly not identical.
To sum up, I say that technical communication is gender-free.
Live long & prosper,
mikel -at- huey -dot- accugraph -dot- com