Women Surpass Men Online

Gordon Fitch gcf at panix.com
Sun Aug 27 07:40:59 PDT 2000

> >Serious male domination of the field began when academic
> >institutions tuned into the status, power and money which the
> >programmers were acquiring and turned the craft into "computer
> >science" and "software engineering." Academic science and
> >engineering in the 1970s filtered strongly for maleness. The
> >status and place of women in computer-related occupations
> >(other than keypuncher or data-entry clerk) then declined into
> >a Problem and an Issue for the same elites who had produced
> >the situation.

Joanna Sheldon:
> Women find a fairly comfortable niche in this industry in the area of
> technical writing. In the last ten years techwriting has come to be
> considered an integral part of development -- the interface between R&D and
> the potential consumer. It brings in less money than programming, and
> techwriters who have programming skills (mostly guys) make more $$ than
> those of us who don't. I've always supposed that the reason for the lower
> financial reward is that it's not as creative a task as programming -- it's
> not where the product's being generated -- although I'm inclined to argue
> that neither hardware nor software is actually product, as far as the
> buyer's concerned, until it's properly documented.

You're speaking somewhat idealistically if you're talking about computer systems. It would be more accurate of the world of commercial software to say that a product does not _appear_ to be a complete product, until it _appears_ to be properly documented. In the world of actual production, that is, making things that actually did something, technical writing would not necessarily be less creative than programming; in fact, it might require considerably more creativity, depending on the problem. In the world of appearances, which is the world that causes money to be exchanged, however, technical writing has a different _repute_ than programming, a different appearance, partly because it has a different history. So it's not likely to be paid as well.

If technical writers want more money, they should probably rename themselves into "technical documentation engineers." _Writing_ is suspect: feminine, (dis)cursive, subversive, witchy. A squarer appearance is needed, a name with more consonants. The fact that this hasn't been seen to already is pretty suspicious in itself.

Gordon gcf at panix.com http://www.etaoin.com

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