Just don’t call me Honey

Contrary to rumor no, I did not get married recently and/or change my last name to Harrison. Besides, I wouldn’t change my last name if I were to get married — and didn’t change it when I was married. I was born Shelley Powers (well, Michelle Powers) and that’s how I’ll go to my ashes.

However, Tim Bray did get my first name right, and I’m thankful for that, considering that the use of the second, and admittedly extraneous, ‘e’, causes confusion and most folk just drop it. But I like my ‘e’. As I’ve said before, without the second ‘e’ the name falls over.

Names aside, when reading Tim’s examination of the issue of women in weblogging and technology, I found statements I agree with and statements I didn’t. For instance, I disagree with Tim’s too easy acceptance that some fields will ‘always’ be dominated by one sex or another; while I agree that regardless, this is no excuse to make those who cross the ‘gender divide’ feel like a freak of nature:

I personally suspect that engineering will remain male-dominated and early childhood education female-dominated no matter how hard we try to be inclusive. And that’s probably OK. What’s not OK is if the engineers are trying to keep out the women who do want in, or the elementary teachers are trying to keep out the men.

Whatever his view on professions and gender identity, Tim doesn’t believe that weblogging should be imbalanced between the sexes, and in this we’re in complete agreement:

I think the griping about the big-name-blogger imbalance is justified and there is a problem here. Shelley Harrison hasn’t quite convinced me that dropping blogrolls and top-100 lists would help that much, but it’s an interesting direction and worth thinking some more about. I’m pretty sure, though, that a little bit of affirmative action in choosing who to link to is likely to be helpful, moral, and smart.

Tim also brings up the classic bathroom issue, where planners provide equal bathroom facilities for men and women, and women end up waiting in line. I don’t think any of us doubt that women and men are built physically different, and there are times to keep this in mind. But until such time that someone can prove to me that there’s a weblogging gene and it’s sex related, I’ll assume other factors are in play when it comes to issues of sex disparity.

Tim sums up his personal view of the situation with the following (and I know I’ve stolen his punchline, but I love it to pieces):

I ain’t in this for Justice or Fair Play or any of that stuff, but rather because I find it viscerally irritating to spend so much time in physical and virtual rooms full of middle-aged white guys. I don’t know why it’s so irritating and I don’t care that much; it’s broken and it needs fixing.

Amen! And Tim, you can make a start by recommending a woman as the third presenter at this event; because from what I can see, the Speaker List is broken, and needs fixing.


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