Male/Female Staffing Ratios

Subject: Male/Female Staffing Ratios
From: Rick Lippincott <rjl -at- BOSTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 1996 17:17:07 +0000

About a week or so ago, I posted a question about the ratios of male and female
tech writers. I asked that you send me data on your staffing ratios, quite a few
of you responded to that request. As the incoming messages have slowed
down over the past day or two, I think it's time to post the answers.

And the answers are -almost- what you would expect. There was one surprise,

First, a refresher. As several of you reminded me, the STC surveys indicate
that of the roughly 20,000 members 61% are women, 39% are men.

29 people provided data about their current employment, and that worked out
as follows:

By company: 20 had women in the majority, 7 had men in the majority, and
2 were split evenly. That would work out, by percentage, to be 68% where
women were the majority, 24% where men were the majority, and 8% evenly

By staffing numbers: The present employment figures reported worked out to
be 258 women, and 146 men. That's 64% women, 36% men (numbers
somewhat similar to the STC survey results).

Now here's the surprise. The above figures represent "present" staffing levels,
in other words it's derived from the totals of what you reported at the places
where you work now. But several of you reported numbers from previous
employers as well. And if I add those in, there's an incredible flip in the ratio,
78% men to 22% women.

That's right, nearly four to one men over women. (It should be noted, however,
that this was caused by a very small number of companies where the ratios
were -hugely- male over female.)

Why is this? There could be several reasons, among them:

* Demographics have changed over the years
* Men do not join organizations like the STC (more than one
respondent suggested this might be true)
* Employees of certain industries are not inclined to join the STC

My experience suggests the last item should be taken into consideration.
We all know that hardware tech writers are under represented on the techwr-l
list. The hardware companies I've worked for were dominated by male
technical writers, but few of them had any interest in joining the STC. For
example, at one company there were 2 tech writers in the STC, 1 man and
1 woman. This would imply a 50/50 ratio of men to women. As it turned
out, though, the ratio was closer to 70 men to 10 women.

So, I have come to the three following conclusions:

1. Among reporting organizations and groups, about 65% of all tech
writers are women.
2. There's a hint, though, that there may be a "hidden" mass of male
tech writers out there, and that they're not responding to surveys or
coming to STC meetings.

And, most importantly..

3. It really doesn't matter what the ratios are. We're
all good people doing the best that we can.

And thanks again to all the people that responded.
Rick Lippincott
Boston Technology
Wakefield, MA
rjl -at- bostech -dot- com

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