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Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why?

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#1 orion61

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:01 PM

I have always wondered why our beautiful Hobby is so heavily
slanted to Male dominated?
My reasoning is, every single time I have shown a Lady
some of the beautiful objects God has graced us with,
they have always gasped in awe, especially Saturn! I have been told by many Ladies it looks like a jewel.
There was one young Lady in the Des Moines club, she used a Dynamax 6, 9it had VG optics) and was a great member,
prooving you don't have to have a 200 lb. rig to be happy.
your thoughts?
 

#2 CJK

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:06 PM

:gotpopcorn:

-- Chris
 

#3 MikeBOKC

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:12 PM

Just a guess here, but I think most hobbies tend to be handed down from parent to child on a same-gender basis. Dads teach sons to fish, golf, motorcycle. Moms teach daughters to do more domestic things. A second factor may be that astronomy is an outdoor, often out in the country, pursuit, and things done outdoors have traditionally been more male oriented.
 

#4 MawkHawk

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:26 PM

All I know is that my wife will only venture out for a couple minutes if I can show her either the moon or Saturn. Doesn't care to see anything else. She doesn't understand why I'd drive an hour to the club site last night to "look at stars", then get a call and drive back up there tonight to meet some guys "to look at the same stars"...
 

#5 Tony Flanders

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:29 PM

It's an interesting and important question. For what it's worth, almost all techie hobbies are male-dominated. If anything, amateur astronomy has more women than most.

There are also startlingly few African-Americans in the hooby.

It's probably mostly historical. Amateur astronomy started out almost exclusively male; for instance, the Springfield Telescope Makers were machinists, and there weren't many -- if any -- female machinists.

Then it tends to get passed down father to son or buddy to buddy. And at mostly male gatherings, men tend to feel more welcome than women.

My niece just did a thesis on women in science. There happen to be lots of major female professional astronomers -- still a minority, but a much bigger minority than (say) female physicists or mathematicians.

She said that women that she interviewed cited role models such as Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin or (earlier) Annie Canon and Henrietta Leavitt. Women are much more prevalent in chemistry and biology, perhaps because they had a relatively easy entree as lab assistants -- think Madame Curie.

Building a community takes time -- which is no excuse for inaction. And if not now, then when?
 

#6 orion61

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:48 PM

NIC POST TONY!
I think the Scope mfgrs are missing a HUGE revenue opportunity here. Why not a scope painted and designed to be Lady friendly? they are 50% of the population! I have never seen an ad that leanes toward the Female gender!
Perhaps it is a single person dominated hoby, and being out at night probably has something to do with it.
How about a pepper spray, tazer, 911 equiped C8? Pink with Flowers painted on it..:love:
JUST KIDDING!!!
 

#7 Dennis_S253

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:49 PM

My wife has never looked through the EP. The next door neighbor lady one night ask me what I was looking at. I showed her Saturn and she said, oh yea I see the ring and went back in the house with my wife.
 

#8 Greyhaven

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 04:41 PM

Well if it's that giving young girls the same opportunities that young lads are given to the sciences I must be doing something wrong. My grand daughter now almost 8 years old has had her own 4" newt. on a alt az tripod since she was 3. Oh, she loves to come out to the observatory with Grampa and take a quick peek at what I'm doing, but truth be told she thinks the observatory would be put to a much nobler use if I would get all my stuff out of there so some proper furnishings could be brought in and there would be less things to trip on. :bawling: I tried, still have a few more years to work on it until the boy factor removes all hope.
Be Well
Grey
 

#9 Tony Flanders

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 07:12 PM

A second factor may be that astronomy is an outdoor, often out in the country, pursuit, and things done outdoors have traditionally been more male oriented.


To some extent, especially hunting and fishing.

But for what it's worth, when I go hiking in New Hampshire's White Mountains, I'd say that the people I meet are just about 50%-50% male and female -- in summer anyway. There's definitely a preponderance of men in the winter, especially above treeline where conditions can get pretty severe.

Which raises the possibility of a physiological difference. Astronomy is done mostly in conditions that range from cool to cold to very cold, and it requires the use of your hands. Poor circulation, in particular Reynaud's Syndrome, is known to be much more prevalent in women than in men. I don't think it's a major factor, but it might be a small one.
 

#10 BarbMoore

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 07:27 PM

My husband and I were brought into the hobby by our son when he was in elementary school. That was close to a decade ago. Our son's interests have moved to girls and cars but the hubby and I are still heavily involved in astronomy outreach. There are some of us women out there but we come few and far between.
 

#11 John Kuraoka

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 07:30 PM

I think it's because it's cold out there at night.

Now, I don't know much about women (and my wife'll probably support that assertion). But from my limited experience, nearly all the women I know well enough to know these things about run a lot colder than most men I know.
 

#12 Mxplx2

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 07:30 PM

I'm surprised no one mentioned that men are hunters and women are gatherers. If searching for faint fuzzys isn't hunting, I don't know what is.
 

#13 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 07:45 PM

I'm surprised no one mentioned that men are hunters and women are gatherers. If searching for faint fuzzys isn't hunting, I don't know what is.


:waytogo:

I grew up hunting and fishing, now I hunt wildlife with my binoculars and hunt down faint fuzzies.

And as John said previously, most women are too wise to take up a hobby that involves staying up late with a cold wind blowing just so one can capture a glimpse of an elusive blurr with a name, something seen much better in a photo.

My wife looks through the eyepiece for a few minutes and goes inside. She has Sky Safari Plus on her cell phone so she can find out detailed information about the Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Jon
 

#14 csa/montana

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 07:52 PM

Why not a scope painted and designed to be Lady friendly?



Now what would you consider for a scope to be "Lady friendly"? Guess I'd better give up my 16" because it's not pink. :smirk:
 

#15 Pinbout

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:25 PM

the white one is for the wife, the cheap more than 1/3rd ~ undercorrected is for me...

I get to carry both. :foreheadslap:


Posted Image
 

#16 kenrenard

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:32 PM

We have quite a few women in our local club including the club president. A few are very seasoned one in particular has helped me out quite a bit. She is probably one of the most skilled visual observers I've seen. With two young daughters I try to get them out and get looks at the sky. My six year old is very interested and got me started in the first place. I hope she keeps her zest for science and math.

Of course on the other side of the coin. I was often the only male in my Yoga class for a few years. Most guys I know wouldn't go for one class.


Ken
 

#17 Achernar

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:43 PM

Perhaps one reason is women don't naturally consider going to dark and remote areas alone or in small group a good time, let alone shivering in the cold looking for that faint fuzzy. More women than men think spending hours at night somewhere is for the birds, but it does seem that more girls and younger women have taken an interest in astronomy in recent years. I see as many girls as boys now at outreach events.

Taras
 

#18 Paco_Grande

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:44 PM

Love how you guys dance around this, being all PC and such. :p

Men and women are wired differently, plain and simple. Sometimes the two meet on the same field, but it's often not for the same reason(s).
 

#19 GeneT

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 09:05 PM

My wife is good for 5 minutes or so under the eyepiece. My astronomy club has an annual Fall picnic, followed by a viewing session. Last year I took her--to the picnic, then returned her home. She does not like bugs, and strange noises in the night far away from home. The good news is that she does not gripe anytime I want to go out viewing. Also, she does not gripe if I want to sleep in until noon the next day. :grin:
 

#20 bumm

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 09:15 PM

Interesting subject. Back in the old sci.astro.amateur group, one German born Iranian fellow pointed out that in Iran, the majority of amateur astronomers are women. Hard to say why in western society, the hobby is so heavily male.
Marty
 

#21 wz2

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 09:23 PM

I think you guys touched on all the points:

Cold
Bugs
Staying up late
Remote locations
Possible alone or in a very small group
Noises in the woods
Setting up equipment
Taking down equipment

There's not one thing there my wife would want to have anything whatsoever to do with.

Chris
 

#22 Tom Polakis

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 09:54 PM

Interesting subject. Back in the old sci.astro.amateur group, one German born Iranian fellow pointed out that in Iran, the majority of amateur astronomers are women. Hard to say why in western society, the hobby is so heavily male.
Marty


So is this also because Iranian women are wired differently from men?

Another difference in the demographic is that countries other than the U.S. seem to have more young people that are active in astronomy. Check out the large group photo from a representative IOTA gathering in Tehran.

Tehran IOTA workshop

Other than heavy lifting of large scopes and mounts, it seems to me like there's no reason that woman cannot participate in the hobby to the same extent as men. Often, it's the "good old boys club" mentality of the hobby that puts them off.

Tom
 

#23 David Pavlich

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 09:59 PM

It could be that it's so "gizmo" oriented and that points to we males. Most women aren't into the machinery end of a hobby and much of this is machinery oriented, like it or not. Barbara has no interest in what I do other than if I have Jupiter, Saturn or M42 in the eyepiece. And she likes my images. :rainbow: But how I get to the finished product doesn't concern her, only if she can post it for her 'net friends to see.

And it's a science thing as well. Science isn't as attractive to the ladies as it is to the guys. Just a fact of the way our hobby is oriented.

David
 

#24 wky46

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 10:09 PM

There's more male nerds? :shrug:
 

#25 lcaldero

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Posted 14 January 2013 - 10:30 PM

I have wondered why myself. I don't know, but I wish we could avoid statements like "science isn't as attractive to the ladies as it is to the guys". Girls are often discouraged in a variety ways of ways from the sciences. It's not that easy for women to gain entry into male dominated professions, and it certainly carries over into hobbies.

Laura
 






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