Re: A Preponderance of Females

Subject: Re: A Preponderance of Females
From: Chuck Melikian <chuckm -at- MDHOST -dot- CSE -dot- TEK -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 11 Apr 1996 13:50:44 -0700

The thread continues a bit longer:

> -------------------- ORIGINAL MESSAGE TEXT --------------------

> {snip}
> {post about women being excellent writers and making up a large
> {portion of the tech writer universe}

> -------------------- END OF ORIGINAL MESSAGE --------------------

> Thank you for your support! My cohort and I have found that many people,
> esp. men, have made the ridiculous assumption that all we tech writers do
> is make things look pretty -- glorified typists. It doesn't occur to them that
> perhaps we are technically competent and able to learn pretty much
> whatever we want to learn. Unfortunately, salary is still an issue, at
> least in the USA.

Well, I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but I too, a man, have been
labeled by engineers as a glorified typist. This attitude is not
limited to men. Have you ever talked to an IS support technician?
The majority I've talked to, including women, treat users
like they are bubble gum stuck on the bottom of their shoes. Sort of
like "If it weren't for those damn users, I could get my job done!".
Arrogance is not gender or profession specific.

> As much as we'd like to believe that women get paid equally for equal work
> here, it just ain't there yet. Imagine what tech writing salaries might be if
> it were a male-dominated field!

We would still be paid less than the engineers. People buy the product,
not the support documentation. Though, in applications such as a
programming language, buying a product without the documentation is
rather pointless.

The problem of respect for technical writing is, I believe, rooted in
our common experience of taking language classes in school while growing up.
We didn't all take engineering classes while growing up. Speaking only of
those whose native tongue is English (though the concept should apply to other
languages), everybody speaks English. Everybody has written papers in
English for class assignments. Thus, (*fallacy alert*) everybody can be a
technical writer. I daresay, if everyone took four years of programming
while growing up, the wage scale for programmers would be a bit lower.

It is not true that anyone that can speak English is a good writer any more
than it is true that anyone that can hold a pencil is a good artist.
But, that is the perception held by many people, nonetheless.

> Someone on this list (and I apologize for not remembering who) said that
> if she interviewed with a male TW manager and the staff of TWers was
> all female, she would run, not walk, outta there. As much as I enjoy
> what I do for a living, I'd like to see more men in the field because, like
> it or not (and I don't), men give a field/position more credibility and a
> higher pay scale. How often do you men TWers get accused of just
> making the manuals "look pretty?"

More often than you might think. Though this has changed over the past few
years, some people still think technical writing is something anyone can
do--without any training.

I must be out of sync with most people then. I don't respect (or disrepect)
anyone because of gender. I base my respect on actions. If someone
pegs my bogosity meter, I don't care where they went to school or what
their gender is, they are a bozo. :-) (Yes, I like using they/their
as indefinite pronouns.)

Chuck Melikian chuck -dot- melikian -at- tek -dot- com

Disclaimer: What you just read does not officially exist.

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