I think that this is very much a multi-faceted issue. So I will only present some of them.
There can be an open-mindedness in adult men about tools that isn't always present in adult women. For instance, give a man a new tool and he (perhaps from tinkering with daddy as a child) will think that he knows what to do with it. In my experience this can result in broken tools, hurt bike parts, or hurt body parts.
Give that same new tool to a woman. She may be intimidated by it, not knowing what it does or how it can hurt her. Having seen other people pick it up and seemingly having an innate knowledge about it (and maybe hurting something) makes the process of familiarization that much more challenging and time-consuming. She isn't likely to come back if she was scared or even uncomfortable.
Perhaps because of this reputation for unfamiliarity, work done can be second-guessed. Personally, there is no response that I've found to resolve this issue. You'd be arguing with an ideologue. An extension of that is having female instruction second-guessed. That cannot be tolerated. It doesn't allow for the learner to learn.
The final case of undermining that I've been exposed to (and, thankfully, not around bikes!) is men who refuse to tell me the information that I need to get a task done. A bike-related example, thankfully hypothetical:
A man needs his bike fixed. He will not say what's wrong with it, nor what he's hearing or feeling. Only that it's broken. Fix it. He's doing this to challenge me. No matter what I find, it's not the "broken" he's thinking of. No matter what I fix, it isn't good enough. In an extreme case, he may lead me down the wrong path (ie I find that his brakes are sub-par and fix those. Maybe he'll even tell me that they're the only problem. But what originally caused him to come in is a loose headset). If I miss something that breaks further, he will blame not only me doing my job, but my gender. This reinforces his negative stereotype of women in non-traditional roles. But is it my fault? No. He set me up to fail by not telling me the problem. And he would do it to any woman sharing my occupation. Again, an ideologue and the problem is neither me nor my chest. It's him setting me up to be the problem. But word will get out that xx shop has a bad mechanic just the same.
Our society has changed very dramatically in the past fifty years. It amazes me that attitudes have changed as much as they have. That's mere generations of parents passing down old societal predjudices. Of course we have more to do, hence these discussions. So I hope I have helped you with what you're looking for.
From: Angel York
To: The Think Tank
ReplyTo: The Think Tank
Subject: Re: [TheThinkTank] Digression from the non-male only projectsthread.
Sent: 29 Oct 2009 03:48
It seems to me that this discussion is sufficiently on-topic (that is, relates to community bike shops) to keep as a part of this listserv. I, for one, appreciate this conversation. Angel On Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 10:19 PM, Mark Rehder <mark(a)drumbent.com> wrote: What would be interesting is to find some cycling stats based on gender - how many women ride bikes compared to men? How many do so for commuting or casual riding, and also as a competitive sport (pro or amateur)? Here in Ottawa I would give a very rough estimate of a 3-1 ratio on the street. But that does not seem to translate into the industry. Of the shops around here, the ones that have women even just doing sales tend to the larger "sports" stores, and there's only one shop I'm aware of that actually had a woman wrench (McCrank's in the Glebe, where I used to work part-time). And it's a bike-only shop. Is it the old thing of women still not being socialized to do mechanical things? As I was growing up I thought feminism would finally help push all this gender-related crap aside, but we all know it has not. But how deep is the mind-set? I need to read up on my gender studies to see if little girls really do prefer dolls and little boys prefer trucks. What has been heartening is how many younger women are showing an interest in fixing their own bikes. We don't get too many women over 35 coming in, but lots in the 18-35 group. We've had a few with some experience say they'd like to be come a Head Mechanic, but unfortunately none have so far followed through. One of our current Shop Assistants did say last summer that she plans to become our first female HM, but then her new job seems to have kept her away from the shop, so we're no closer to even that modest goal. Women have told us they appreciate seeing other women in the shop, especially as staff, answering questions and selling bikes. While we are gender lopsided in terms of mechanics, we're at least doing better in terms of committed volunteer staff. But it is certainly not representati
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