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Old 01-31-2011
terry terry is offline
Head Coach
Join Date: Apr 2008
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Default The Value of Input from Women on TI Forums

This morning's NY Times has an intriguing article about the gender disparity on Wikipedia. It got me thinking, not for the first time, about a similar disparity on TI Discussion Forum. There seem to be far more men posting. Yet many of those whose posts I've most enjoyed over the years have been women. Some who had a real gift for articulating important ideas in the past are no longer part of the scene and I wondered why that might be.

Some excerpts from the article:
In 10 years, Wikipedia has accomplished remarkable goals. More than 3.5 million articles in English and over 250 total languages. But it appears that less than 15 percent of contributors are women
Sue Gardner, executive director of Wikimedia foundation, wants to raise female contributors to 25 percent by 2015, but is running up against computer world traditions and an ‘obsessive fact-loving realm dominated by men and, some say, uncomfortable for women.’
Examples given: Topic of interest to teenage girls, like friendship bracelets, gets four paragraphs. Articles of interest to boys like baseball cards, includes a detailed chronological history.
Two HBO Series: Section on “Sex and the City” includes only a two or three sentence summary of episodes. Section on “The Sopranos” includes lengthy, detailed articles on each episode. There are 45 articles on the Simpsons.
Ms. Gardner noted a 3-paragraph entry for one of her favorite authors, Pat Barker, an acclaimed writer of psychologically nuanced novels. By contrast, Niko Bellic - a fictional character in the video game Grand Theft Auto -- had an article five times as long.
OpEd Project, an organization that monitors the gender breakdown of contributors to “public thought-leadership forums” says a participation rate of roughly 85-to-15 percent, men to women, is common — including those who comment on The New York Times and Washington Post Op-Ed pages.
Catherine Orenstein, founder and director of the OpEd Project, said many women lack the confidence to put forth their views and that her group urges women to express themselves by shifting focus “away from oneself — ‘do I know enough, am I bragging?’ -- to thinking about the value of your knowledge.”

I couldn't help but think about the latest ‘hot topic’ on the TI Forum, a thread I started to report on new insights I gained into why the Mail Slot entry seems to provide such a satisfying increase in propulsion.

Those insights came from an engineer who attended the first week of our Maho Bay Open Water Camp, and thus were technical in nature. They sparked a flurry of incredibly-spirited discussion – even debate – that at this moment stands at 92 posts. I can’t be precisely sure because screen names are often gender neutral, but my guess is that the gender disparity on that thread is even greater than 85-15.

In contrast, after our the Maho Bay camps, there followed non-public email exchanges among those who attended. The womens’s camp, though it had half as many participants as the ‘regular’ camp a week earlier, has had a far greater flow of post-camp exchange among participants. Several said they would share their thoughts about the camp and how it has affected their swimming - or even altered their lives - on the Forum. I would love to see this happen.

Is there anything we can do to support women TI enthusiasts in sharing their insights for the benefit and enjoyment of the entire community?
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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