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May 19, 2008



I find the Times conclusion to be at odds with the reality that I see every day. The cross section of most engineering companies look just like engineering grad schools. Maybe they should look there for the answer.

I can say that the engineering fields are about as neutral as any industry out there and probably even more so.

This is an industry that is today dominated by Chinese and Indians not because they planned it that way, but because these fields only demand that you bring your brain and they responded accordingly.

I have seen companies, in the worst form of affirmative action, hire any woman that can spell the technical words correctly because they fear being called sexist or worse. I have also seen woman excel to positions on an equal footing with the men around them, based on the same sort of hard work that was demanded of their colleagues.

The numbers may look bad, but as I have said to my daughter who has taken up the challenge, just bring your brain and the rest will be easy.

On the other hand .. lazy brains need not apply.

By the way, graduating engineering students (BS-level) are starting now at $50,000 and above this year. I’ve heard of a few above $100,000 in selected fields.

Not too bad starting in the top 10% of wage earners.

Bring your brain

Oh .. you may have to get your hand dirty.


Personally, I think that women "de-select" themselves out of engineering based on the idea that getting a college degree allows you to get a "clean" job.

The idea of going through college and then having to go out to probe an oil hole, take readings on a chemical plant distillation tower or check concrete thickness & hardness at a bridge job site just does appeal to them. Then, of course, there are those other reasons.


Women who are mathematically gifted are more likely than men to have strong verbal abilities as well; men who excel in math, by contrast, don't do nearly as well in verbal skills.

The theory of Comparative Advantage strikes again. If only Summers had invoked it instead of suggesting that men had an absolute advantage in science, he might still be President of Harvard. Not that anyone would have understood it. Paul Samuelson famously referred to "thousands of important and intelligent men [!] who have never been able to grasp the doctrine for themselves or to believe it after it was explained to them.”


Survey says Drezner now has tenure.


And yet the editorial board at the NY Times is just 35% femals (7 of 20, according to their list)...

JM Hanes

This bit from the Times per "Josephine," a computer programmer nicknamed "Finn," struck a chord:

“It turned out to be really useful to allow some of my colleagues to imagine I was a man,” the worker is quoted as saying. The e-mail messages Finn received were strikingly different than those received by Josephine. Not only did they contain “brutal locker room stuff, that was hard to take,” but also important information shared by colleagues who wanted to keep each other in the loop. Josephine got none of that, making the advantage of being a man in a male world quite clear.

I arrived at JOM with a gender neutral screen name, having abandoned the more transparent use of my first name in far less civil venues. There was a noticeable difference between the kind of responses I got when I was clearly posting as a woman and when I switched to my initials instead. Oddly enough, I stumbled on the Gender Genie at about the same time. If you paste around 500 words worth (about 3 paragraphs like this one) of something you’ve written into the dialogue box, it will guess your gender. The explanation on the results page was pretty interesting – I ended up neutralizing my language as well as my name in a couple of ways which would not have occcurred to me. Barring any indication to the contrary, people almost invariably assume you’re a man. I don’t ascribe a lot of meaning to that fact, but it’s convenient. I would never claim to be a guy in a discussion, but I don’t feel compelled to correct other folk’s assumptions either.

Post makeover, I wrote up some advice to women posting in a man's world and eventually used it over at Quasiblog as Confessions of a She in Wolves' Clothing. Thanks to the tone set by our Dear Leader, I freely ignore that playbook in his threads, but it does seem apropos. Here, in abbreviated form, are the bullet points:

There is no such thing as a man among equals.
Tip of the food chain, or toast.
Don’t leave home without ad hominems.
Accommodating needy people is not your job!
Mea culpas are optional.
Excise weasel words and the appearance of doubt.
All your demographics are belong to us.
Don’t cry uncle yet, ever.

The “advice” I offered was not entirely tongue in cheek. With the exception of a helpful hint from my mother when I was on an anti-architect rant, the rest derived from direct enagement and observation in online discussions. Aside from the 2 men = a locker room phenom, I’d say that a big chunk of what women often ascribe to sexist condescension is actually how men talk to each other. There’s real condescension out there (ergo JM Hanes), but I think sometimes what seems patronizing is really just men trying to be more considerate of women than they are of each other.


I had no idea. I just thought you were an extra smart man.


Interesting, jmh. I admit I was surprised sometime ago to realize you were a woman because of the very crisp masculine style of your writing.
I take this criticism of the hard sciences as the last gasp effort to completely destroy academia...seriously. I have a darling younger cousin who is good in math and science and is an automotive engineer. Her husband is, too, but with all the cutbacks, he has prepared to switch careers though for whatever reason it appears her position is safe.


I really dislike not knowing the gender of who I am talking to, but I don't know why I feel that way. I can't imagine competing with your words JMH or Rick Ballard's or PUK's or Cathy's because of their pure competence. You all have this incredible economy of language combined with the ability to paint a picture that is vivid, crisp and succinct.

H&R does the same thing in an entirely different way, and Clarice is in a world of her own with language. I've gotten pretty good at guessing the poster from the first 7 words of the sentence.

As is evident above, I should be identified by my rambling.


JM, things like "Don’t leave home without ad hominems" are how to win an argument, not how to come to understanding. That doesn't sit too well with me. Are you trying to win an argument or come to understanding?


Thanks, Jane. I'm definitely in a world of my own when it comes to typing and proofreading. I did try gender genie--a graf of an article I wrote today-- and it says I'm a man.Hmmm???


I did too Clarice and it said the same thing about me, which I find very surprising.


I just fed my previous blog entry into Gender Genie and... and... well, either I came out wrong, or Gender Genie did. Screw Gender Genie. I'm comfortable with my writing style and my manhood, even if I don't feel comfortable in the pink tie my brother-in-law can get away with.

hit and run


Words: 975

(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)

Female Score: 1249
Male Score: 1266

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

But just barely!!!

Jane, I suppose years of legal writing messes up the genie's head. Actually, I expect what it counts as masculine tends to me present tense writing that is stated with some sort of authority..words suggesting the author is expressing feelings or passive tense stuff...well, you might as well be wearing a pink tie.
I don't understand SNW's rating, with hit I'm astonished the genie didn't just explode. (Smooches, Hit, just kidding.)


**tends to Be present tense****zo
**or passive VOICE stuff****
**SBW's rating**

(GOOD GRIEF..It's been a long day.)

hit and run

Completely helpful -- TM's latest post on Krugman, minus the blockquotes:

Words: 316

(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)

Female Score: 444
Male Score: 436

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: female!

But just barely!!!

Don't shoot the messenger, but TM sounds like a girl when complaining about Krugman?

Who knew?


Okay. I redid it with my blog essay on Democracy which is more the size required:
Words: 1057
Female Score: 1422
Male Score: 1576
I'm feeling more masculine already. I'm even feeling balanced.


Very good. Now let's see what the minutewoman has to say for (her)himself.

hit and run

Obama's NC primary victory speech:

Words: 2403

(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)

Female Score: 3463
Male Score: 3489

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

But just barely!!!

This could be fun.

If it weren't past my bedtime.

JM Hanes


I was describing how men argue -- present company excepted, of course, as I originally wrote that piece before settling in here. In my experience, men are far more inclined to call each other stupid, for example, or disparage credentials/backgrounds, or levy accusations of bad faith than women are.

JM Hanes

Jane & Clarice:

I'm not at all surprised that GG thought you were men. You are both very forthright and direct in your comments. I still struggle against a continuous urge to add qualifiers, on top of various softeners like "it seems to me," YMMV, or stating something in a vaguely conditional fashion -- as in "I think it is" vs. "It is." In any case, the fact that folks here may not fit the standard profiles is a feature, not a bug!

I hadn't retaken the test before I posted it, but having done so, the new results don't seem to offer as much explanatory detail as they used to. The NYTImes article they cite offers a little more to chew on, but not the specific specifics I remember.


Well, I return to profession--legal writing emphasizes the features genie considers masculine. I expect it makes one's writing more concrete,emphatic and active voiced.


Now, if genie had a pablum counter everyone in educational administration would win the prize. It's a place where seldom is heard the active voice. If you get my drift.....

JM Hanes

The folks at The Guardian tried the Gender Genie out too. Although it's from 2003, this bit would make a near-perfect addendum to TM's original post:

One of their findings is that women are far more likely than men to use personal pronouns ("I", "you", "she", etc), whereas men prefer words that identify or determine nouns ("a", "the", "that") or that quantify them ("one", "two", "more"). According to Moshe Koppel, one of the authors of the project, this is because women are more comfortable thinking about people and relationships, whereas men prefer thinking about things.
No luck on finding the exposition that is so firmly fixed in my memory, though.

JM Hanes

The drift, as described by you, has been noted, Clarice.




I posted Tom's comments in the myspace post into the Genie:

Words: 978

(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)

Female Score: 947
Male Score: 1326

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

Perhaps TM reverts to gender form in comments moreso than his blog proper.


Same thread, all comments:

Words: 389

(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)

Female Score: 321
Male Score: 495

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

I had no idea I was capable of being so concise.

On a side note, I've finally managed to plant something in Best of the Web--only to find out that due to a misconfigured email account, my name was misspelled.

Does it still count as following in my hero's footsteps?



I find the table of words and their scores underneath my results.

I can reformat and post if you can't get to it.

Does it still count as following in my hero's footsteps?

I'd say yes! Congrats Walter. :)


I think the funniest ad hominem is using "positivist" as an insult. A basic characteristic of us positivists is that we are unpersuaded by ad hominem arguments, so if you are going to try to persuade us to the error of our ways, it would be useful to have something a bit more more substantial. Whenever I read one of these I find myself chuckling and saying, "...and your point would be...???"



Turns out the hundredth-and-oneth try is the charm.


Well, maybe I should be having an identity crisis. First off, I decided to look for one of my long-winded postings, so I googled:

"Posted by: cathyf" site:justoneminute.typepad.com

To which google replied:

Did you mean: "Posted by: kathy m" site:justoneminute.typepad.com

But, anyway, here's what the genie said:

Words: 641
(NOTE: The genie works best on texts of more than 500 words.)

Female Score: 524
Male Score: 1270

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!

Maybe kathy m (whomever the heck she is!) would have scored female... ;-)

JM Hanes

Thanks for the offer Walter, but unfortunately, I'm remembering what I thought was a much expanded results page from back when I first tried out the Genie years ago. I can see the scoring table, but I was trying to find the additional text info that was so useful the first time around. When the links for further reading didn't fit the bill either, I decided to call it a day.

JM Hanes


When I popped in 530 recent words of my own, I came up:

Female Score: 538
Male Score: 976

It's looking like JOM has got a real locker room thing going on in here!


One of my favorite things about the blogs, one cannot tell a pesons gender, race, age, looks, dress, income, education, etc.

Expression in the written word is the only judgement one can make.

I have enjoyed reading you comments JM. I'll enjoy it more in the future.


"peson" = person, of course, sticky r on the keyboad.

JM Hanes

I had no idea I still qualified for a coming out party here! Thanks, Barry, and MikeS too. I enjoy the fact that we are all just voices on the web too.


Congrats Walter, but we a link!


No - we aren't a link - sheesh - we NEED a link.


JMH: In my experience, men are far more inclined to call each other stupid, for example, or disparage credentials/backgrounds, or levy accusations of bad faith than women are.

Now that's a stupid thing to say! You need a more advanced degree to say that! You're simply saying that to cut men down!
Hey, how'd I do?


For the most part I think women (and moonbat men) are more whiny in the way they write. And more personal. Men seem to deal more in ~just the facts, Ma'am~. At least those are the identifying factors to me. And I think women can get much more personal in their insults.

Sbw says: "you are stupid", while I might say "you act like that because you are short". Women are better at hitting you where it hurts.


I sort of see JM Hanes point
As an exmaple, I had put my initial post on another site and I got a response, and my follow up ...

Yes Neo, since YOU see no evidence of sexism in engineering, clearly it must not exist.

I deal with sexism on a regular basis when I do something as simple as shop at electronics stores. That same culture is present in the computer industry, only on a much larger scale.
sushi | Homepage | 05.19.08 - 1:32 pm | #

I deal with sexism on a regular basis when I do something as simple as shop at electronics stores.

Excuse me, but Radio Shack ain't engineering, it's sales by some of the dimmest bulbs in the package.
Neo | 05.19.08 - 2:15 pm | #

I just loved the condescension, but frankly part of the problem seems to be wrapped around the proper terms or the definition of words.

I think every engineer (or at least the ones that I deal with) would say the sexism is alive and well in sales forces across this nation, but technical sales is not engineering.

They say that "those who can't teach" .. well it's also true that "those who can engineer go into sales" .. hence the dimmest bulbs in the package.


Jane: I might say "you act like that because you are short".

I guess I don't have a mean streak that is cruel enough to be female. ;-)

Then we turn that around by saying, no, it's that you weren't oppressed like we were to harden you. Turnaround establishes victimhood on one side and guilt on the other -- like putting your scrabble letters on Double Word Points.

hit and run

Congrats Walter!

I always knew you had it in you.

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