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  • Lance Mannion
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I don't know, Lance. Much of what you saying is inarguable, and some of it is entirely speculative.
Occasionally (and I'm not sure if it happens too often or not often enough), I fall into a realm of thinking that: "Anything is possible."
Considered from one perspective, "Anything is possible," is patently preposterous. From another, it may be a powerful and extremely useful point of view, whether true or not. My head still aches (protracted migraine) or perhaps I could relate my neither-here-nor-there observation to your post. Now, I can only admit it's merely my immediate response.
But to anyone not susceptible to such fleeting emotional reactions, I say: why not try it? Because managing to entertain, even for an interval, the idea that "anything is possible," always feels like freedom.

Melissa McEwan

But I don't believe the world will be a better place because You get to be the engineer You were designed to be. It will be a fairer place.

Maybe it won't be a better place for You, but it might damn well be a better place for other female engineers.

The assertion that there's no difference for women when there are more women in their work environment is, quite frankly, dead wrong. It makes a difference. I've worked in an environment when, for most of my tenure, I was the only woman on an entire floor full of men (most of whom I managed). For a short time, there were other women on the floor, too. I can't begin to describe the difference in how the men behaved when I wasn't the only woman (and they weren't particularly badly behaved when I was). The point is that the mere presence of other women made a difference in how I was treated. Call it "respect in numbers."

Anyone who thinks that letting more women into any given profession will have a more humanizing effect on that profession is as much a sexist as the men who are bent on keeping them out of it.

Maybe so, but "humanization" (a vague word for which I'm not totally sure I know your definition) of a profession isn't the only conceivable affect adding more women can have. More women in a workplace, for example, generally means more family-friendly company policies (which is good for other humans--like dads and sons--too, ahem). That's not because women are intrinsically better people, but because women who work full-time are usually still the primary childcare providers, so they need and demand more flexible work policies.

Also consider: "Yale economist Ebonya Washington compared the voting records of fathers in Congress to scorecards maintained by NOW and the American Association of University Women. And regardless of party affiliation, the more daughters they have, the higher their voting record score on issues like flexibility for working families, pay equity, abortion rights and violence against women. Legislators with all daughters have scores that are 12 points higher than those with all sons."

The presence of women in all sorts of places--even in the homes of legislators--makes a difference.

Two big differences between feminists and me are that feminists want to change everybody's thinking all at once and as fast as possible while I am only interested in changing the thinking of people around You at the moment and I have no faith in the ability of feminists to decide what people's thinking is and how it ought to be changed and what it ought to be changed to.

Always nice to see feminists spoken about like a monolithic group with a singular goal and a shared action plan. What was that you were saying about Me again? Or was I not the You to whom you were speaking...?

Come on, Mannion. You're making me crabby. And I know you're better than that lazy (and mean) paragraph.

Melissa McEwan

I should clarify this: "More women in a workplace, for example, generally means more family-friendly company policies." - N/A for the working class. Sigh.

Ken Muldrew

This is the worst example of engineerist drivel I have seen in ages. Probably the last time I saw such egregious engineerism was from your friend Keillor. The two of you should be ashamed.



Let's make this shorter.

Reducing the impact of unfair gender norms may not decrease the impact of other unfair norms (economic, professional, etc). Occasionally reducing unfair gender norms can actually increase the impact of other unfair norms.

Conclusion: A critique of the patriarchy without an equivalent critique of capitalism merely reinforces capitalism with only a small reduction in patriarchy.

Jim Tourtelott

Not to change the subject too greatly, but speaking of the birthdays of Great Americans--last Tuesday was the 70th birthday of Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr., the greatest American prose stylist to come out of Oyster Bay. (And yes, Teddy, I'm looking at you.) We should all raise a glass to the creator of Tyrone Slothrop.


I Disagree, Lance...completely. I think - really THINK...if Women ran the world and Men agreed to be at-home-daddies...the world WOULD be much better place. Tis not an absurd sexist notion that women are intrinsically more verbal; better negotiators; and wiling compromisers than most men. Men have had their 5000 yrs to Rule and Run things and it ain't hat much better of a place, not any less violent...but yes perhaps better engineered than 5000 yrs ago - But I think tis high to give it cance for women to RUN (notice I didn't say *Rule*) the World!


Thank you kindly for the link, Lance. :) Your musing about female nurses with female doctors has a multitude of answers. As you noted above, though, female doctors receive training as doctors--and doctors can be incredibly jerky or incredibly kind.


Though I agree with everything you wrote (especially about a preference for thinking about YOU rather than the abstract ALL OF YOU), yesterday I experienced a powerful example of what makes a profesional setting different when it's a female rather than male dominated setting. It was at a university dermatology surgery clinic in San Francisco where I was having cancer cells rather delicately scraped off of my nose and then having the bloody mess put back together again for seven straight hours. Unusually, among the 30 workers at the clinic, ranging from head doctors to new doctors to student residents to nurses to instant pathology lab people, there were only two men.

As brutalizing as the experience was, I loved the energy at the clinic. What impressed me most were how empowered the lowly administrative staff seemed to be. They ran the joint, beautifully, and openly cracked black-humor jokes with the patients in a way that I've rarely seen in a hospital-type setting. The doctors/residents/nurses also worked collaboratively in a way I've never experienced before, without the grotesque Me-Male-Doctor/You-Female-Nurse dichotomy that we're all used to in a health-care setting. It was genuinely interesting and new. So, Melissa McEwan, you've got a great point.

I also totally agree about the need for more male elementary school teachers. In a civilized world, the entire teaching profession (male and female) would have the status and compensation of, say, a brain surgeon today. Until that utopian moment in the future, just having more male teachers will raise everyone's payscale and consciousness (just as the entry of male nurses has raised the payscale and working conditions for female nurses).

greg in ak

having worked in social services and the mental health field, both tending to have more females then males, working with women is great. the work enviroment is different, as melissa points out, with women in the work place. i often prefer working with women. that being said, women are, as we psychology types like to call, people. people can be vain, selfish, short sited, dumb as a bag full of hammers, and not give a crap about people. The worst, and best, bosses i have had have been women.

the feminist critique has merit but it is often overplayed. there is so much to all of us that just looking at gender as making a person this or that is close to meaningless.

Karenmcl- without getting all statistical on a friday night the data about how women are so different from men is often misinterpreted. the differences withen the genders are far , far more the differences between the genders. and those differences are part and parcel of our culture, not inate. men can be just as verbal, etc as women.


Bianca Reagan


Why do you call yourself "not a feminist"? Do you want women and men to have different rights in society? If you do want women and men to have equal rights in our society, then you are a feminist. It's that simple.

Lucky for you, you have the privilege to be naive enough to think that more women aren't becoming engineers because they don't have the talent or desire to do so. Having the right skills for a job doesn't guarantee that someone will hire you for that job, even if you are the most qualified person applying. Especially if you are working in a male-dominated field.

It's almost precious that you think kindergarten teachers think like kindergarten teachers and strippers think like strippers; therefore those are the professions they chose. It's kind of hard to become a kindergarten teacher when you don't have the money to go to college to get a teaching degree. There is no such barrier for entry with regard to becoming a stripper. Even less-than-attractive people can make money taking off their clothes.

What's insulting is the following passage:

Women bankers think like bankers---try telling the woman running the loan department at your bank that you can't make this month's car payment. The only difference between her reaction and that of the man at the next desk is that it will take her a half an hour to say what he'd have said in five minutes. "You're screwed."

I am a woman who gets to the point. My lady-parts don't cause me to be superfluous. There are lots of male windbags out there. Maybe you just haven't met any in the banking profession.

Furthermore, I would make a great teacher. I love kids, I love learning, and I love influencing young minds. However, I chose not to become a teacher, not because of the lack of status, but because our government does not respect our educational system. Teachers remain overworked and underpaid, and things are only getting worse. It's not solely a female/male thing. I'm sure more qualified women would become teachers, in addition to more qualified men, if teachers' hard work was respected and renumerated in a fair manner.

I also chose not to become a teacher because I want to be the CEO of a cable network. I have extreme talent, ability, experience and desire to excel in this field. I know that if there were more women leaders running the entertainment industry, my climb up the ladder would be much easier. Alas, there aren't, so it is extremely difficult. Even moreso than if I were a white male, and I've seen many of them struggling in this industry, too.

And ditto what Melissa said: maybe equalizing the playing field for women who want to be engineers won't necessarily make it a better place for You, "but it might damn well be a better place for other female engineers."

Matt T.

If You have the brains and the talent and the diligence and the pluck and the complete... [a lot of nonsense about engineers, I swear, I must be the only layman on the planet that doesn't hold engineers in total contempt, even just "jokingly"]... well, then, by God or by Darwin, I want You to have the chance to be an engineer and I want all the male engineers to step aside and make room and let You do Your job as an engineer, as one of them.

Dude. That's feminism in a nutshell. I'm with you on the teacher stuff - and I was lucky to have some extremely killer bee male teachers all through my schooling - this "I want everyone to succeed, not just women" stuff is just weak. I know, I know, you didn't mean it that way, but do you really think all feminists hold to that particular straw for their homunculus construction.

As for this:

We're hardwired that way.

It's just the nature of the beast.

Bullshit. I refuse to believe that men have no option inre: being a total asshole because our genetics demand it. It's too easy a dodge. Whether it's genetics or tradition, it's all just a way of saying "forgive us, for we know not what we do". It denies the use logic and reason as tools to deal with the world, and infantalizes us all. It's insulting to women because it tells 'em, hey tough shit, missy, that's just the way things are and we can't change 'em, so quit yer bellyaching and make me some pie. It's insulting to men because it insinuates we're all assholes by default.

I fully agree such attitudes are encouraged by society. I grew up redneck, so believe you me, I've seen it and still see it in how my cousins raise their kids. Frankly, though, I don't understand how anyone can at once say that society all but brutally penalizes any devience from these norms when it comes to gender roles (hey, try being a young redneck boy who loves books and learning) and say we're "hardwired" for that same behavior that's beaten into our heads from the womb on. Hell, even if it were true, even if we males were hopelessly cursed by our very genes, it's a weak and cowardly dodge.

We don't have to be assholes. We just are because it's easy, we're lazy, and there's plenty of us benefiting from it. Many of the same people are benefiting hugely from the results of having a culture that equates education with social disease, so it's probably no wonder most of us are so easily suckered into the worldview that there's just nothing we can do about it, gosh dawgit, because of genetics/tradition/diety of choice/badly misunderstood and poorly applied "science" lifted from a wholly unrelated source.

There may be a point here I'm missing, and I apologise if there is, but this has been a sore point of mine as of late for reason wholly unrelated to gender represenation in the workplace. But, hey...I'm a man. Can't help being an asshole, can I?

Deep Thought

I hate to nitpick, but which Americans, exactly, hate learning? Sure, I hear all the time that 'public schools are Teh Sux0r' and that 'Americans are soooooo dumb', but does that make it true?

American adults have the highest average number of years of schooling in the world; America is in the top 1/3rd of OECD nations by percentage of populace who completed high school [secondary ed] and #2 in percentage that complete college [tertiary ed]; The vast majority of the top 100 universities in the world are in the US. The good thing is that US rates for high school completion are up, as are general literacy.

Does the US education system have issues/ yes, and very serious issues. But to claim that "Americans hate education" may be a bit more projection than analysis!

Deep Thought

I hate to nitpick, but which Americans, exactly, hate learning? Sure, I hear all the time that 'public schools are Teh Sux0r' and that 'Americans are soooooo dumb', but does that make it true?

American adults have the highest average number of years of schooling in the world; America is in the top 1/3rd of OECD nations by percentage of populace who completed high school [secondary ed] and #2 in percentage that complete college [tertiary ed]; The vast majority of the top 100 universities in the world are in the US. The good thing is that US rates for high school completion are up, as are general literacy.

Does the US education system have issues? yes, and very serious issues. But to claim that "Americans hate education" may be a bit more projection than analysis!

Deep Thought

weird! Sorry for the double post.


Deep Thought,

Americans like to get certificates from educational institutions that get them higher pay. That's not really learning in any fundamental sense. In fact, learning has comparatively little to do with formal education - learning implies a self-generated internal desire for knowing or wisdom.

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