Re: Who are we?

Subject: Re: Who are we?
From: LaVonna Funkhouser <lffunkhouser -at- HALNET -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 21 May 1997 14:54:00 -0600

> Two snips from recent mail suggest that most of us are women with "hard"
> technical backgrounds. ... When I called the STC's head
> office this morning, I was told that the US Bureau of Statistics gives the
> figures as 50/50. The STC membership breakdown is approximately 64% women and
> 36% men. (snip)
> No info was available on> educational background.
> Can anyone else point me in the direction of statistics on who we are? (where
> "we" means technical communicators, writers, editors).

Somebody wrote, "no way is that true anymore" regarding the 50/50
figure. Note that the 50/50 male/female breakdown came from the US
Bureau of Statistics, so it probably came from a 1990 survey, but
to find out for sure, ask the STC for its source. If you ask me, I
think it is true. Some offices and subjects will be dominated by
men, some by women, and others will have a balance. If it has tilted
toward the side of female dominance, I'd guess it has not changed
by a great percentage. (Most of our new hires have been male.)

Regarding the description of having "hard technical backgrounds," my
guess (and only a guess) is that this is false. I think people with
technical degrees or with technical jobs who move into tech writing
are in the minority compared with those who study composition, tech
writing, English, etc. and then get into tech writing. (I am not
assigning a value to either side; I believe our profession is
strengthened by having both present.)

> I am asking because I am curious and also because I will be speaking
> (briefly) about technical communication as a profession on a community radio
> show about women and technology (it would be nice to have some facts, eh?).

If you want to get all the facts, I'd contact STC again. The
executive director, Bill Stolgitis, has often given talks that
give these statistics (including educational backgrounds, I believe).
The person on the phone may not have realized that you wanted to
research this thoroughly. Perhaps you could request a copy of
his presentation or notes.

On the subject of "women and technology," the woman who gave the
opening keynote address for the 44th STC Conference, Esther Dyson,
might be a good person to research.

Good luck on your radio talk!


LaVonna Funkhouser lffunkhouser -at- halnet -dot- com
Sr. Technical Writer & Webmaster (405) 251-4582

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