It seems I’ve been quite naughty of late-warranting some criticism on Twitter for my overly sexist remarks, sweeping generalisations (and poor spelling on my blog), so I have to apologise profusely for the spelling. About the sweeping, sexist remarks-I’m not all that sorry-in fact, I quite enjoy rubbing you boys up the wrong way. It got a reaction, which is half the point anyhoo…(and that’s not a typo, I actually wanted to say anyhoo).
The comment that got me in trouble was an assertion I made that women are better communicators than men. I did back this up by a solid spot of research, Do women make better marketers than men?, but was speaking more from my own (admittedly limited) personal experience. The scenario I tweeted about was an observation I made in a meeting that I sat in on yesterday. A specialist consultant was brought in to optimize the design of our grate for the Phase II plant. The grate had given a number of problems over the years on Phase I and subsequent changes were made.
Four chemical and mechanical engineers spent about an hour trying to explain what the exact problem was to the specialist, but again and again, the specialist kept saying, “I don’t quite understand your key objective in what you want from me.” I must admit, with the amount of information that was presented, I had trouble keeping up, so I understand the poor man’s frustration. So another hour followed of hand-sketches, (engineering scribbles we all are very fond of), CAD models and drawings before our technical manager, a female chemical engineer came into the room. She clearly and concisely explained the relevant history, pinpointed the problem area, and explained-importantly-what the specific goal was to bring the specialist in in the first place.
I tweeted the story and the statement “Female engineers are better communicators than males.”
From there it was all smooth sailing and soon we were all off to the plant for a site-visit. I love site visits. Apart from being an excuse to wear my shocking pink hard-hat, I get to chat with the foremen and artisans and get all the gossip on what machine has broken down and what they had done to solve the latest problems on the operation.
So back to my sweeping statement that women are better communicators than men. I’m afraid I can’t prove that one with just one example. My first year of vac-work though, my mentor engineer said that since the evolution of the profession to being more collaborative-with team-work and multi-level contribution becoming more recognised, the influx of women-who bring charisma and a natural tendency towards relationship building-was a highly positive and even necessary dynamic.
One last thing I’d like to point out in response to what a friend JW tweeted, “its still a broad generalisation based on gender. I couldn’t say something similar even with research without angering women”. Whilst this may be the case in some specialisations, countries or companies, in my specific company, country and field, as a woman one simply can not be overly sensitive to sweeping generalisations made on women. If I got upset every time someone did this, I wouldn’t survive in my job. Instead of complaining and burning my bra, I choose instead to do my job the best I can (and then blog about it so that everybody knows that I did all that tough stuff without a sweat).