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Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why?

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#226 tecmage

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 06:50 PM

I have to kind of grumpily admit that I don't much care why astronomy is male-dominated, and certainly am not going to wring my hands over it. There's nothing preventing women and girls from getting into as much as they want, as demonstrated by some of our members, including those who have posted on this very thread. I'm sooooo bored with political correctness. . . which seems to be one of the subtexts here. Ladies, there's the sky, and welcome to it!

Bill


Hi Bill. In 12 pages of discussion of an aspect of Astronomy, I don't believe I've read anything that rises to the level of hand-wringing, and definitely nothing that approaches political correctness. No one is being asked to do anything here (that's the Outreach Forum).
 

#227 la200o

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 08:18 PM

Maybe I'm just getting a little reactionary in my old age, Richard. Looking back you're basically right.

Clear skies,
Bill
 

#228 roscoe

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Posted 03 February 2013 - 11:57 PM

Perhaps it IS a biological thing, in a small way......even back in pre-history, male hominids were bigger, with more upper-body strength, and more agression (all through the animal world, the boys out-display, head-butt, or otherwise fight it out to win the attention of the girls) and these tendencies led to more willingness or drive to attack other animals. With the discovery that some of these victim animals tasted good, came the beginning of hunting.
Fast forward a few million years, this biological aggression tendency has turned into competition in the workplace, sports, and still a need to head-butt and act flashy (or stupid, depending on point-of-view) to attract the ladies. The hunting instinct that's been with us for a gazillion years has, in our little subset, turned into hunting for galaxies........ The "Hey Oog, look at my fancy new spear" boy-bragging has turned into "look at my fancy new EP"
The astromesses I've met or conversed with seem to view astronomy in a more contemplative than competitive way, and while they usually have quite nice gear, they just don't seem all that driven to win the 'most EP's in the fanciest case' contest.......
that's my two cents on the matter.......
Russ
 

#229 killdabuddha

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 01:54 PM

Perhaps it IS a biological thing, in a small way......even back in pre-history, male hominids were bigger, with more upper-body strength, and more agression (all through the animal world, the boys out-display, head-butt, or otherwise fight it out to win the attention of the girls) and these tendencies led to more willingness or drive to attack other animals. With the discovery that some of these victim animals tasted good, came the beginning of hunting.
Fast forward a few million years, this biological aggression tendency has turned into competition in the workplace, sports, and still a need to head-butt and act flashy (or stupid, depending on point-of-view) to attract the ladies. The hunting instinct that's been with us for a gazillion years has, in our little subset, turned into hunting for galaxies........ The "Hey Oog, look at my fancy new spear" boy-bragging has turned into "look at my fancy new EP"
The astromesses I've met or conversed with seem to view astronomy in a more contemplative than competitive way, and while they usually have quite nice gear, they just don't seem all that driven to win the 'most EP's in the fanciest case' contest.......
that's my two cents on the matter.......
Russ


Well, the difficulty of any biological/chemical hypo would of course be that we run contrary to such just by askin the question and by havin women in astronomy at all. Such has also been used in the past with math, science, and how many other things? and with disastrous results (except for those women who refused to believe such/follow the herd). Also, if we raise "the hunt" hypo, thatsa metaphor that can be applied across a much broader range of disciplines. BTW, the common practice today is to drop the male/female gender suffix. Astronomess? LOL. Whatever the case, most of this thread sounds like a hunt for justification rather than for explanation/understanding, and for the latter history is certainly appropriate. (Caution: reading required.)
 

#230 la200o

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 02:41 PM

I kinda think it is biological somehow; men innately like tools/instruments/gadgets/weapons. . . and of course there are plenty of exceptions to the rule.

Bill
 

#231 evilmedic13

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 02:54 PM

Culture and opportunity.. My sister spends far more time at the ep than my wife. My wife is a cop, and likes to brag about never doing girls stuff like play with dolls, etc when she was younger, she can't boil water without burning it practically. My grew up as most girls do, dolls, easy bake oven, etc. She's a spec Ed teacher. You would think it would be the opposite. The only difference I see is that my sister had a brother, me, and I was into all that when I we young, and included her. My wife has a sister, neither are curious types at all. In fact, if its not within their "world" it's not interesting to them.
It definitely makes family gatherings boring for me. I'm the only one that's not a cop or rn. Most of the males I know, outside of my job, have little interest as well. My fil thought I had "too many" telescopes when I got #2. He came over last month to see Jupiter. Now, if its warm enough, he calls to see if I'll be out "scoping". Even one if my best friends, a professional photographer, had never viewed through an ep until recently. He said anytime I go out, provided its above 50degrees, he'll drive out to wherever I go. He even offered to load and drive me and my gear out.
A few RN at one of the er's I transport to have expressed interest in viewing after seeing the Venus transit through my 90mm mak-cass. A lot don't know what they're missing until they actually see what their missing. A lot of us can't afford the gear others have. I know I couldn't until around 2009. Mainly because ,in Chicago, you barely see mag 3 objects, so not much interest in what you can't see.
I have more, but this is already too long. ;)
 

#232 killdabuddha

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 03:01 PM

I kinda think it is biological somehow; men innately like tools/instruments/gadgets/weapons. . . and of course there are plenty of exceptions to the rule.

Bill


Hi Bill,

Firstly, if yer daughter wanted to be an astronomer you wouldn't play the bio-card. Secondly, which of the many evolutionary models would you cite? Thirdly, how does biology not first produce the other factors which are more germane/close to the issue...that it's been through coercion or force (whether of law/conquest/rule/belief) that almost everything has been male-dominated in what we call "civilization?" And lastly, is it ok that such thinkin has justified keepin women outa so much for so long? Or did women somehow eventually evolve to the point where they could be trusted to vote and have property and do science and math? (On a side note, isn't "innate" another way of sayin, "Sumthin does/is what it does/is for reasons that we don't yet know," as with "instinct," etc. Also, there are plenty of cultures/societies where women fight side by side with men, and the Israeli Air Force has shown, scientifically, that women make better pilots.)
 

#233 la200o

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 04:01 PM

How do you know I wouldn't? And what are those cultures where women fight side-by-side with men? Maybe on TV. . .and now and then in cases of desperation (Russian female snipers, VC guerrellas. . . ).

Clear skies,

Bill
 

#234 Crow Haven

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 04:13 PM

On the cultural/opportunity track, this is familiar to me as well. I wasn't much interested in dolls, etc. Luckily, the opportunities to choose what did interest me was provided. Neither of my parents were into science and very little of astronomy was taught in my schools (astronomy was covered in about 5 short pages in two texts through high school). I was always interested in the sciences -- way more than most of the boys in my classes. Why was that? Top grades in these subjects certainly earned me a "nerd" label, but I didn't care...in fact, however you might like to view it, I have never cared what others thought of me or my interests. I've wondered why so many yielded to peer pressure on so many things while I did not. Stubbornness? Only child syndrome? For many there was a fear of the "nerd" label in school, with both boys and girls -- I didn't know of any girls who wanted to risk it rather than follow a group and be thought of as "cool."

Neither of my parents ever said much about it (how to deal with peer pressure)they just let me do my "own thing." They were both busy most of the time with work but if I asked for help with something they would do whatever they could...like the time Mom hiked far back into the hills with me (age 10) brandishing a "sharp pointy instrument" for protection against "wild dogs", etc. to help me find and study amphibians for a project I was working on. She was also terrified of snakes, of which there were plenty of rattlers in the area, so this was hard for her. She didn't share my love of most all creatures...Dad was rather indifferent on it.

If biology is a part of the reason more men like astronomy then what is it? Testosterone level = competitiveness translating into anything that can be competitive/won looks like a more interesting endeavor? It's all too general.

I give credit to my parents for providing what opportunities they could towards my interests. They were not traditional, not at all religious in any way (although their own parents were religious), they didn't dictate what I should think, feel, or believe. They gave me my freedom, and I flew with it.
 

#235 Photobud

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 05:34 PM

How do you know I wouldn't? And what are those cultures where women fight side-by-side with men? Maybe on TV. . .and now and then in cases of desperation (Russian female snipers, VC guerrellas. . . ).

Clear skies,

Bill


Israel and soon, USA!
 

#236 csa/montana

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 06:24 PM

This discussion is amazing, the paths it's gone down. Personally, I really don't care if something I want to do, is considered male dominated, female dominated, or 50/50. If I enjoy something, I'm doing it because I want to do it; and in all the hobbies I've had, I've always been accepted for who I am, not my gender. Flying, & motorcycles were just two of my hobbies where I was welcomed as one of the group; regardless of how many were male or female. When I became interested in Astronomy; it never entered my mind that I was entering a "male dominated" hobby; who really cares, I certainly don't.

Perhaps we should put as much energy as shown in this thread, in coming up with ways to encourage more females & youngsters (boys AND girls) to share our love of astronomy. :)
 

#237 Crow Haven

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 06:29 PM

Right on! :waytogo: :waytogo:
 

#238 la200o

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 06:52 PM

How do you know I wouldn't? And what are those cultures where women fight side-by-side with men? Maybe on TV. . .and now and then in cases of desperation (Russian female snipers, VC guerrellas. . . ).

Clear skies,

Bill


Israel and soon, USA!


Israel: desperation (and as far as I know, women are still not allowed in line infantry units). *edited by moderator*
Clear skies,
Bill :)

p.s. to Carol: yep
 

#239 azure1961p

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 09:39 PM

I truly truly wonder if its because guys in general are more prone to find these kinds of pursuits and not because they are necessarily expressions of virility or male ego, but just the chemistry of the male mind.


Several people have suggested that in more or less those words. Let me try to dispose of it once and for all.

There is very likely some truth to this statement; however, it is untestable. More to the point, it is not a very helpful way of looking at the isssue. Let me expand.

Although there are surely some inherent differences in male and female minds -- or, more precisely, different tendencies or averages -- it's impossible in practice to tell which differences are inherent and which are cultural. It's fair to say that people tend to underestimate the importance of culture; history is littered with differences between different groups that were once assumed to be innate and later proved to be cultural.

Am I wrong or are most sports and hobbies male dominated even if its 60%? Even skiing and scuba is primarily male.


Sports are a case in point. There have always been sports that were exclusively female (field hockey) or dominated by women at the highest levels (softball). But fifty years ago it would have been obvious that sports are inherently male-dominated.

Now it's not obvious at all. Soccer, the fastest growing sport in the U.S., and one of the few sports that's played the same by both sexes, is definitely more popular among girls than boys in my region of the U.S. Given the current trends, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see women dominating in many sports within the next 50 years.

I pointed out a similar example in my first response. Fifty years ago, boys did far better than girls in math and science. Now the reverse is true; girls outperform boys in these subjects at the high-school level, and in some areas of science women outnumber men among PhDs.

It's worth noting that everyone in this thread who has suggested that the difference in astronomy particpation is innate has been a man. This is totally unsurprising.

Throughout history, when one subgroup has been in a position of greater power than others, the dominant subgroup has always believed that the difference is due to inherent superiority -- whether because they're chosen by God, racially purer, bigger, braver, smarter ... whatever.

The subordinate subgroups are generally less enthusiastic about that point of view.

But leaving questions of truth aside, it's simply not helpful to say that the difference is innate. That's no more or less helpful than saying that the difference is cultural. Both of those statements are surely true (they are in no way contradictory!), but they're just a way of avoiding asking the hard questions.

If there's something innate in male biology -- or something cultural -- that makes men more prone to stargazing than women, what is it? That's the interesting question.


Thanks Tony. I appreciate your thoughts here. One thing I will add - in some sports/hobbies I enjoy women ARE well received. They might not dominate now but what ones do are welcomed. I think most folks probably find it refreshing when a member of the opposite S gets involved in a predominantly opposite S pursuit. It's kind of refreshing I think.

Pete
 

#240 droid

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 10:06 PM

Carol; Amen sister
 

#241 mark8888

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 10:11 PM

Just read an article/graph which is pretty on point for this thread. http://www.nytimes.c...in-science-e...

Girls Lead in Science Exam, but Not in the United States
For years — and especially since 2005, when Lawrence H. Summers, then president of Harvard, made his notorious comments about women’s aptitude — researchers have been searching for ways to explain why there are so many more men than women in the top ranks of science.

Now comes an intriguing clue, in the form of a test given in 65 developed countries by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It finds that among a representative sample of 15-year-olds around the world, girls generally outperform boys in science — but not in the United States.

What explains the gap? Andreas Schleicher, who oversees the tests for the O.E.C.D., says different countries offer different incentives for learning science and math...
 

#242 roscoe

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 12:36 AM

BTW, the common practice today is to drop the male/female gender suffix. Astronomess? LOL.


With tongue firmly in cheek, I would like to point out that right here in this forum there is a non-gender-specific individual who refers to their non-gender-specific self as....... an 'Astronomess'.......

R
 

#243 killdabuddha

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 03:19 AM

How do you know I wouldn't? And what are those cultures where women fight side-by-side with men? Maybe on TV. . .and now and then in cases of desperation (Russian female snipers, VC guerrellas. . . ).

Clear skies,

Bill


Israel and soon, USA!


Israel: desperation (and as far as I know, women are still not allowed in line infantry units). *edited by moderator*
Clear skies,
Bill :)

p.s. to Carol: yep


Phung Thi Chinh took part in the battles of 43 AD and delivered her child at the battlefront. Other women involved in the fighting included Hoang Thieu Hoa, General Le Chan, Thanh Thien Princess and Cao Thi Lien.

In 1997 the earliest known women warrior burial mounds were excavated in southern Russia.

About 20% of Scythian-Sarmatian 'warrior graves' on the lower Don and lower Volga contained females dressed for battle in the same manner as men, a phenomenon that probably inspired the Greek tales about the Amazons.

Between 373 and 380 AD Queen Mavia she led the Saracen into battles against Rome in Palestine, Phoenicia and Egypt.

Trieu Thi Trinh fought against the Chinese in Vietnam in 248AD.

In 2004, the 2,000 year old remains of an Iranian female warrior were found in the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz.

Fu Hao was one of the many wives of King Wu Ding of the Shang Dynasty and also served as a military general and high priestess.

In terms of "normal" women fighting as part of a regular army, one of the earliest examples known is Nusaybah bint Ka'ab; the first female to fight battles in defence of Islam and Prophet Muhammad. After her, many others followed. This was over a millennium before women took active roles in modern western armies.

Princess Pingyang raised and commanded her own army in the revolt against the Sui Dynasty.

A bronze age cuirass for a woman dated between the 11th and 8th century BC was found at Haute Marne in the Netherlands.

The Spartan princess Arachidamia fought Pyrrhus (of the phrase "pyrrhic victory") with a group of Spartan females under her command, and killed several soldiers before perishing.

The Celtic Queen Boudicca with her two daughters led a revolt against the Roman Empire in 60 AD but was decisively defeated at at the Battle of Watling Street.

Emilia Plater was a Polish noblewoman who led a revolt against Russia.

The Roman Empire was known to sometimes have women fighting, called gladiatrix, in gladiator games.

The Dahomey people, who live in western Africa also established an all female militia, who served as royal bodyguards to the king.

The majority of Native American tribes possessed respected and well established women leaders of their militia. However, the Europeans and early American men refused to deal with Native American women on such matters and so their significance was not understood or appreciated until relatively recently.

The Rig-Veda, an ancient sacred poem of India, written between 3500 and 1800 BC recounts the story of a warrior, Queen Vishpla, who lost her leg in battle, was fitted with an iron prosthesis, and returned to battle.

In South Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, there are records of women who have led armies into battle.

In 366AD Empress Jingo Kogo led a Japanese invasion of Korea. Empress Jingo was pregnant when she invaded Korea and therefore had to have adjustable armor made.

In 39 AD Trung Trac and Trung Nhi led a Vietnamese uprising against the Chinese. They gained control of 65 citadels and reigned as queens until 43 AD. Their mother Tran Thi Doan (also known as Lady Man Thien) trained them in military skills and led troops to support them.

Zabibi and her successor Samsi reigned as Arabian warrior queens from approximately 740 to 720 BC. Both commanded armies containing large numbers of women.

Dihya al-Kahina was a warrior queen who led Berber troops against invading Arabs around 694AD.

In 200AD, Japan was ruled by the warrior-priestess-queen Himoko (or Pimiko).

On the walls of Hittite fortresses dating to 1300 BC paintings of woman warriors carrying axes and swords.

Rani Lakshmibai of Jhansi was one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and was described by the British as "remarkable for her beauty, cleverness and perseverance", and that she had been "the most dangerous of all the rebel leaders".

In 529 BC Queen Tomyris of the Massagetai defeated the Persians.

The Biblical Judge, Deborah, was a military leader during the occupation of Canaan 1250 -1050 BC.

Unniyarcca was a famed warrior princess who lived in the south Indian state of Kerala during the 16th century.

Kittur Chennamma, queen of the princely state of Kittur, led a rebellion against the British decades before the 1857 uprising.

Indonesia counts a number of female warriors among its national heroines.

Between 1570 and 1546 BC Queen Aahhotep I of Egypt led armies against Thebes and helped to unite Egypt under one rule.

Cut Nyak Dhien and Cut Nyak Meutia waged a nationalist war and jihad against the Dutch during the Aceh War at the turn of the 20th Century.

Another Indonesian national heroine, Martha Christina Tiahahu, joined a guerrilla war against the Dutch colonial government as a teenager, in 1817.



Howz that Mr. Bill? These are only a few particular women and cultures that we know about because of their notoriety. There are many more notable examples, and how many more that will never be known because they were mere infantry? Desperation indeed. Non-infantry indeed. What a ridiculous comment.

And as for yer other, "How do I know you wouldn't [deny yer daughter astronomy on biological grounds]?", I didn't say that I knew such. I said that you wouldn't do such. There's a difference, but bein a guy, and hence deprived somewhat linguistically as compared with women, maybe you don't read too good? On second thought, maybe you would do that.
 

#244 killdabuddha

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 03:23 AM

Just read an article/graph which is pretty on point for this thread. http://www.nytimes.c...in-science-e...

Girls Lead in Science Exam, but Not in the United States
For years — and especially since 2005, when Lawrence H. Summers, then president of Harvard, made his notorious comments about women’s aptitude — researchers have been searching for ways to explain why there are so many more men than women in the top ranks of science.

Now comes an intriguing clue, in the form of a test given in 65 developed countries by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. It finds that among a representative sample of 15-year-olds around the world, girls generally outperform boys in science — but not in the United States.

What explains the gap? Andreas Schleicher, who oversees the tests for the O.E.C.D., says different countries offer different incentives for learning science and math...


If yer willing to have yer socks knocked off, or just want a handy resource, check out

http://www.worldmapper.org/

Then you'll know where America stands in the world, and what it does or doesn't stand for, particularly in education.
 

#245 astro_baby

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 04:45 AM

Killdabuddha....intesting post. Obviosly being a Brit Boadicea and the Iceni are close to my heart ......I think your examples do show theres not much thats 'innate' and I never really believed there was. There mah be differences in brain chemistry and structure etc whose to say women dont have an advantage because of it. In the UK girls routinely outperform boys in academia these days.

Anyone whos seen a women get really angry ( as opposed to sort of angry or mildly annoyed ) knows we can be very ferocious indeed :) so no reason to believe we wouldnt make great warriors. Upper body strength is actually not that big an advantage unless your going to wrestle. A spear through an opponent, or an arrow or a high velocity bullet for that matter is likely to render any wrestling match superflous. Women take high G better than men but I dont see men arguing that women should be fighter pilots very often. Thats the old dominant group picking tha data that suits them routine.

Personally I have never believed there are any imperatives.......

There are plenty of other examples in observed science. Its very easy to believe data at times especially when it fits with your own preconceptions of what the 'truth' is.

As to why the are fewer women who do astronomy though...heres a thought. How do we know thats true ? Its a bit of an assumption in itself isnt it ?

They may not be posting on boards, its easy to believe that everyone into astro is online as well. I regularly meet people who have never been on an astro board. My own sister for instance never comes online, occasionally reads boards but has no interest in conttributing ( and usually berates me for wasting time online as well ).

It may be there are women in all kinds of astro reated fields who just dont do observational astro.

The ratio of men to women may be slewed by men taking up a new hobby but who in fact leave the hobby quickly so if you based it on people who have been in the hobby for say 10 years you may get a different result. Certainly I see a lot of men start on forums and then drop away and I see a lot of gear being sold 'because I am bored' type ads by men. Now I come to think of it I have never bought any secondhand gear off another woman.

Thinking about this last night I wondered about imaging........does that perhaps attract more men in.? Ioccurred to me I only know a single woman who does imaging. Forgive if I am overlooking any on here but I am basing this on personal contact.
 

#246 la200o

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 08:03 AM

[quote
Howz that Mr. Bill? These are only a few particular women and cultures that we know about because of their notoriety. There are many more notable examples, and how many more that will never be known because they were mere infantry? Desperation indeed. Non-infantry indeed. What a ridiculous comment.
[/quote]

You must not have much to do but write long rambling, and semi-literate posts! As an ex-Marine rifle squad leader, I suspect I know quite a bit more than you do about what works in the infantry. Gosh, you've sure assembled a lot of dubious "facts," though. I'm impressed?

Bill
 

#247 Achernar

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 09:00 AM

I am a Slav by half, my father and his family are Ukrainians and Russians. During the Second World War, many women were combat pilots and snipers, some of whom killed hundreds of Germans before they themselves were killed. After the war, women were well represented in the Soviet Spetznatz, especially the Navy Spetznatz. That is their version of the Green Berets and Navy SEALS. There's also a Ukrainian lady who is one of the world's top aerobatic pilots. When she's not flying, she raises her children with her husband. Americans who do not have my ancestry have no idea that a Russian woman is a lioness when it comes to her children and their welfare. I saw that in my grandmother Anna, and I know a Russian couple who lives down the street from me. There is a long history of women fighting along their men against the Russian people's numerous external and intenal enemies. When it comes to astronomy, many professional astronomers in Russia have been and are women today. In general, there seems to be many more professional astronomers across the board who are women than amatuer astronomers. That reflects the fact that hobbies are but one of many priorites everyone must juggle who are not astronomers by profession versus those who make their living as professionals.

Taras
 

#248 Tom Polakis

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 09:30 AM

As to why the are fewer women who do astronomy though...heres a thought. How do we know thats true ? Its a bit of an assumption in itself isnt it ?



I've enjoyed reading your contributions to this thread, but I feel compelled to answer that question.

It's not an assumption; it's as simple as looking at the data. Very few women are buying telescopes, attending meetings, going to star parties, subscribing to the magazines, posting on this board. We know that women represent a small part of the astronomy hobby.

I see this argument trotted out often when the subject of the lack of young amateur astronomers is discussed, and it doesn't hold up.

Tom
 

#249 csrlice12

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 09:35 AM

Cause men are from Mars and Women are from Venus....and Venus is covered in clouds(always)..........Mars has clear skies (mostly).......
 

#250 csrlice12

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Posted 05 February 2013 - 09:41 AM

Astronomess--sounds like the inside of my kit bag......

I believe "Astronomer" is one of those "sexless" terms. We've come to think of it as male, well because we're probably not as intelligent as we think we are......
 






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