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General Astronomy >> General Observing and Astronomy

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kenrenard
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/13/12

Loc: Dunmore, PA
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #5625763 - 01/16/13 08:37 AM

I know with our local club I am one of the youngest members and I'm 41. We do have a few kids who show up for big events my daughter being one of them. I think with instant gratification society as a whole doesn't value nature as much as previous generations. I know people who spend way to much time on facebook and twitter and almost ignore you while having a conversation. They are so distracted it would be difficult for them to spend time contemplating something small and dim that might take time to see.

My two year old screamed out look Daddy all those birds ( seeing a group of about 100 or so starlings fly overhead.) She was caught in the wonder of nature but several adults near by never looked up from their smartphone.

Some of my greatest lessons have been taught by a two year old!


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orion61

*****

Reged: 10/20/07

Loc: Birthplace James T Kirk
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: bunyon]
      #5625768 - 01/16/13 08:41 AM

Luv the tag Barb,
But I need my Palm read!
The Women are coming out of the woodwork now WooHoo


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David PavlichAdministrator
Transmographied
*****

Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Mandeville, LA USA
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: orion61]
      #5625790 - 01/16/13 08:54 AM

The age thing is definately there. In my case and I'm sure in a LOT of cases, I was interested in astronomy for a long time. However, life happens and astronomy gets put on the back burner. Fast forward, life has settled, kids have flown the coupe and now you have a little extra time and a little extra money. You start with a 60mm Meade refractor and then you end up with a rolloff roof in your backyard.

Our club is mostly older guys and the star parties that I've attended are pretty much the same.

David


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Achernar
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: Mobile, Alabama, USA
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: BarbMoore]
      #5625826 - 01/16/13 09:15 AM

I gather you and your husband have his and her telescopes? I think it's great to have not only an undersanding spouse, but one who enjoys time under the stars as much as you do.

Taras


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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #5625842 - 01/16/13 09:25 AM

In the last year I think I've met two women who do astronomy. One had just bought a small mak as she said she was getting too old for the "heavy equipment" anymore. The other owns the local brick and morter telescope store...and a more knowledgeable lady I've never met...She really knows her stuff when it comes to equipment, and she is a very active observer and DAS member. Once or twice a month, her store has "Star Parties" where the set up their display scopes outside and let you try them out; or just come around and be sociable. Both are older than 50, like a lot of the rest of us. Sure glad to have that store there though; for those who don't have access to a brick and morter telescope store, you have my sincere sympathy. I imagine the space race had a lot to do with the interest of the baby boomer generation in astronomy. A Mars Mission, or a moon colony, or even commercial space airlines, might be the key to another generation of amateur astronomers...unfortunately, a select few seem more interested in shining searchlights into the sky or covering a river with cloth for "art".

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Feidb
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 10/09/09

Loc: Nevada
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: Carol L]
      #5625883 - 01/16/13 09:53 AM

Carol,

You're absolutely right! While there have always been a few women at our major events, the hobby has been overall male dominated but that doesn't make it a male hobby any more than any other pursuit.

I was a solo amateur for over 25 years and whenever I brought the subject up, I usually got blank stares or some comment about looking in someone's window. On the the other hand, when another male would ask me about sports I would give them the same blank stare I got asking about astronomy, as I have absolutely no interest in that. In fact, it's my wife that is interested in sports, football and NASCAR where to me, it's like watching paint dry.


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csa/montana
Den Mama
*****

Reged: 05/14/05

Loc: montana
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5625885 - 01/16/13 09:57 AM

Quote:

the hobby has been overall male dominated but that doesn't make it a male hobby any more than any other pursuit.





Bingo!


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weezy
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 02/13/04

Loc: East of the sun-west of the mo...
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5625900 - 01/16/13 10:06 AM

Some of the problem is male opinion. When I was looking for a scope - it was "get a dob" We have a reflector,and I didn't like it. I've since wound up with a 4"apo, PST, and the Orion 120ST.

I also don't make notes, write out an observing list, etc.
I like to hunt and just see what I can see.

There's nothing wrong with other hobbies. I do sew and quilt, but on the technical end. Uses more technology and control. Besides which, I don't like half the stuff sold in the stores. I also like color play.

I'm the IT dept around here - not my field, I have a degree in graphic design. But I will take up a challenge. My phone is a Nexus S - I got annoyed with Google, and rooted the phone. I'll run a ROM that suits me. I don't do entertainment or social, another reason to root. (In their place I have most of the astronomical apps)

I've found quite a few interesting downloads and can run them from a tablet via HDMI. BBC puts out quite a few.

The Vulcan, who has a degree in EE, built the reflector as a science fair project, can't even grab my phone without changing something on the screen. He pooh-poohed the Telrad when he first saw it, had trouble believing SkEye. I told him the phone and tablet did have GPS and gyros,but I had to get a technical explanation for him to understand it. He thought both devices were too small. He didn't realize that the tablet could do HDMI and has been enjoying Cosmos all over again. Once he figured out how to handle the touch screen.

Bigger isn't always better. What good is an 8" dob going to do me if I can't move it by myself? I can pick up what I have and enjoy it. I'd rather spend time looking than writing or dictating notes.

Right now, it's either frigid or cloudy.

I enjoy nature. I would have looked at those birds.


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Tony Flanders
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/18/06

Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: bunyon]
      #5626015 - 01/16/13 11:12 AM

Quote:

People have been talking about the age factor being bad news for the hobby as long as I've been in the hobby (30 years this year!).




So it's all your fault -- you're scaring them away! As it happens, the trend started just about 30 years ago. In the 1960s the hobby was full of young people.

Likewise, the circulation of Sky & Telescope increased every year until they hired me. After that, it's all been downhill ...

Quote:

I don't think definitive conclusions can be reached.




Agreed.

There's also definitely a tendency for people to take up stargazing when young, put it on hold while they're absorbed by kids and careers, and then resume when they have some leisure time. It's hard to guess how that will play out.

Tony Flanders
Associate Editor, Sky & Telescope


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Tom Polakis
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 12/20/04

Loc: Tempe, Arizona
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5626026 - 01/16/13 11:19 AM

Quote:

It is a time consuming hobby, younger observers have families and careers that take priority.




Jon, that argument comes up often in this discussion, but you need only look at photos from star parties as recently as the late 80's to realize that the median amateur astronomer age back then was 30-something. Younger observers had families and careers back then. Today the median age is 50-something. As Tony Flanders has pointed out, those who make their living with amateur astronomy know what the trend in the data looks like.

Back on topic, one thing that has not changed in the past few decades is the male dominance of the hobby.

Tom


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NeilMac
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 09/25/10

Loc: MedHat, AB, Canada
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: Tom Polakis]
      #5626052 - 01/16/13 11:47 AM

I agree the age has changed. When i started in the late 70's it was the young, now its like average 50's.
However I think it also has to do with the community, it the UK their are towns were its very mixed and allot of youngsters.


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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: NeilMac]
      #5626080 - 01/16/13 12:04 PM

"Right now, it's either frigid or cloudy."

and on that point, it doesn't matter what sex you are.......


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Carol L

*****

Reged: 07/05/04

Loc: Tomahawk, WI 45N//89W
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5626101 - 01/16/13 12:25 PM

Quote:

Just curious.. a question to the women: On a personal level, did you find there are artificial barriers to this hobby for women, ones that do not exist for men?




I don't believe i have, Jon. But as a lone wolf observer, i'm probably not qualified to answer that question. You see, there aren't any local clubs around here, and i don't go to star parties - my rural 40 acres has pretty dark skies and there's really no point in going elsewhere. Since getting into all this in the late '90s, my only contact with other Amateurs has been online and i've endured my share of sexist comments from male Amateurs (who never matured from the neck up ) but TBH, i can't really say i've encountered any artificial barriers.


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Achernar
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/25/06

Loc: Mobile, Alabama, USA
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: Feidb]
      #5626142 - 01/16/13 12:51 PM

You and me both, I can care less about sports and not just because they are for me about as fun as watching paint dry too. I know the true purpose of sports as we know them today, and it's nothing to do with sports. Why do you think the Romans had all the arenas from one end of the empire to the other? It's nice to know I am not the only one who feels that way. Most folks in my area think I came from outer space for that. I tell the local rednecks that astronomy is a lot like fishing, you never know what you can catch on a good night.

Taras


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BigC
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 09/29/10

Loc: SE Indiana
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: Achernar]
      #5626182 - 01/16/13 01:17 PM

Folks this is going to be political.

If you think about it,the population statistics of our nation are seriously skewed from what they might have been had people continued to follow the lifestyles of the previous generations.Think about what or who is missing and why.

What we have is proportionately fewer young people,but ones expecting much more in terms of instant gratification.

Ham radio holds little for a person accustomed from tender age to instant world-wide communication;likewise peering through a small scope at faint fuzzy objects holds little for those accustomed to seeing splashy multi-color Hubble or Keck photos.

The return doesn't seem worth the effort to many.Especially if there is little money or fame to be made.

Other traditional hobbies are also suffering:bowling alleys are closing, and skeet shooting and archery is practically nil in my area unlike their popularity in the 1960s.

Today peopl;e ,young and not-so-young, spend enormorous amounts of time playing with computers and video games. How many times and how many people have you seen walking head-down intent on manipulating tiny buttons on their personal portable oracle,the smartphone ?

I fear we are becoming a people who have more vicarious thrills than is good.


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NeilMac
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 09/25/10

Loc: MedHat, AB, Canada
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: BigC]
      #5626197 - 01/16/13 01:24 PM

True the population has been dumbed down that kids dont know were french fries come from, cant tell time unless its a digital clock and dont know when to laugh unless its got a laugh track on it.

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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: NeilMac]
      #5626210 - 01/16/13 01:34 PM

Not to mention if the register didn't tell them, they'd have no idea what change to give......

That being said, I've also ran into a lot of the opposite...young, smart people who actually do care about their job and providing customer service...We were in the mall the other day (and this isn't the first time) shopping and went into one of the stores. The lady (hard to not call them "girls" even though she was in her 20s, gettin' old tends to change how you label things...)had more metal in her ears, nose, lips, eyelids, and tongue then my car has. But she was one of the most polite and helpful people I've met in my 59 years. Just shows you can't judge a book by its cover....

To be truthful though, didn't our parents/grandparents feel/say the same thing about us??????????


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stmguy
sage


Reged: 10/11/12

Loc: Western NH
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: NeilMac]
      #5626216 - 01/16/13 01:40 PM

Perhaps this quote from an article about Stellafane says something about our hobby

"Spouses aside, women are definitely in the minority at Stellafane. For all the bearded, Apollo-era men in attendance, it could pass for a convention of summering Santa Clauses. I spotted at least two men wearing red suspenders and shorts."

http://www.7dvt.com/2010stellafane

Norm


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uniondrone
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 12/05/09

Loc: Streetlight Archipelago
Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? new [Re: stmguy]
      #5626295 - 01/16/13 02:25 PM

Quote:

For all the bearded, Apollo-era men in attendance, it could pass for a convention of summering Santa Clauses.






Hmmm... they might be on to something!


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Madratter
Postmaster


Reged: 01/14/13

Re: Astronomy Hobby Male dominated, Why? [Re: stmguy]
      #5626322 - 01/16/13 02:47 PM

I think it is pretty much socialization, not genetics. As as previously been mentioned, the hobby is full of old guys. And back when those old guys grew up, women weren't supposed to be good in math and science.

Also, my guess is that many women simply were taught it isn't safe to be outside at night by yourself. And because of that, they simply don't feel safe outside at night.

As for why young people aren't interested, many of them live in places where the sky is lit up and there aren't many stars to see. On top of that, what with the various planetary probes and the Hubble, it can be a hard sell as to why you should look through an eyepiece. To me, the view is incredibly beautiful, but I can certainly understand why others don't find it so.

For what it is worth, I have a daughter who loves Football. My sons tolerate it at best. I also have two nieces (both in their 20s) who were quite interested in seeing Jupiter with just their eyes. The same cannot be said of my nephews. Unfortunately, my nieces are not nearby, so I can't show them the view through my telescopes.


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