I didn't expect this gender blabla to surface here.
I'm a father of three, 2 boys and one girl; 3 engineers . What? my girl is engineer in the petroleum industry? What did i do to achieve that? Nothing in particular and surely not telling her all that garbage about gender etc ... But i've always told them that they don't follow studies for getting a future job. It was just for the fun of learning and working hard. They would make their own choice later, if any. Ah, yes too, much Sport, no TV no console no PC no all that garbage.
All that gender narrative is pure bullshit. It won't make any more girls in STEM education. Didn't they notice that they had a problem with STEM education as a whole?
First girls do what they want to do (they are girls), second make STEM education fun (not just for girls but for boys too), third pay engineers more, no more outsourcing and endless immigration... Why would you want girls embrace engineering when they are easyly replaceable by a cheap guy (or girl!) coming from India or other country.
Suddenly, it's much harder to change things and this gender story is just easy speaking.
French and Spanish both have a rather nifty gender-neutral pronoun, on in French (not pronounceable by 'Mercans) and se in Spanish. A typical phrase is "Ici on parle français" (French is spoken here) or "Aquí se habla español" (Spanish is spoken here). Literally it means "Here one speaks French/Spanish", however one does not see that usage of "one" as much nowadays, times being what they are.
Personally, I find it an intriguing challenge to cast a sentence in a gender-neutral form. It often it requires a very different sentence structure, but often the new structure is much better. Who says poetry is harder than prose?
I find the "singular they" to be a monstrosity. Bleh. Thrice bleh.
If all else fails, you can use the Minnesotan phrase "a lotta guys", as in "a lotta guys wouldn't weld so near that gas tank". According to none other than Miss Manners, "guys" is now gender neutral. Yeah, I was surprised too.
Well, once upon a time the novelist Evelyn Waugh was married to Evelyn Waugh (although IIRC, in British English the female & male name are pronounced differently).
In China, wives do not take their husband's names, although the children do. Names aren't gender specific, and parents pick a name with a meaning they like (which can be like Elegant Beauty, Victory Piano, or those unfortunately born during the Cultural Revolution, Red Soldier and Every Generation A Farmer -- and the last three are real names but you can't tell the gender from them).
BTW, my daughter has no interest in engineering; she's a tomboy princess who loves reading, art, music, legos, biology, and basketball -- but not math!
Max's phrase about engineers looking after tools reminds me of an old CAD paper in which the male author actually wrote (from memory): "An IC designer must become intimately familiar with his front-end tool". Depending on what one means by "tool", I guess this could be gender-specific. Ahem.
I grapple with the gender issue all the time. I used to di it without thinking until my daughter started making more aware in no uncertain terms. I still am not sure what to put many times, but I do catch myself about 80% of the time and actually think about it.
There is some irony in that my name "Aubrey" has become a female name in North America. This is notwithstanding that fact that it means "Father of the Elves" or some variation thereon (Shakespeare's Oberon is apprently derived from the same source.) Apparently the universe has found a way to even the balance.
My daughter always excelled in school. She took a programming course in 9th grade meant for juniors. She took all the AP math and science courses she could, and got As in all of them. She took physics in college and got As there too. So there was no one dissuading anything.
I suggested engineering, but she knew from way back even before grade school that she wanted to become a veterinarian. No way was I going to insist. Instead, she became a vet specialist, excelling all the way through vet school, internship, residency, not to mention at least three separate board exams.
So my experience is that girls are hardly behind in any of the academic skills, perhaps the other way around is more accurate. But it takes that vocation too. Sort of a calling, if you will. Without that, you're swimming upstream.
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