A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Accepting Roles Created for Us: The Ethics of Reciprocity   (members only)

Grounded in theories of feminist research practices and in two empirical studies we conducted separately, our argument is that seeing reciprocity as a context-based process of definition and re-definition of the relationship between participants and researcher helps us understand how research projects can benefit participants in ways that they desire.

Powell, Katrina M. and Pamela Takayoshi. CCC (2003). Articles>Workplace>Ethnographies>Gender


"And Then She Said": Office Stories and What They Tell Us about Gender in the Workplace   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article calls for a rhetorical perspective on the relationship of gender, communication,and power in the workplace. In doing so, the author uses narrative in two ways.First, narratives gathered in an ethnographic study of an actual workplace, a plasticsmanufacturer, are used as a primary source of data, and second, the findings of this studyare presented by telling the story of two women in this workplace. Arguing that genderin the workplace, like all social identities, is locally constructed through the micro practicesof everyday life, the author questions some of the prevailing assumptions about genderat work and cautions professional communication teachers, researchers, and practitionersagainst unintentionally perpetuating global, decontextualized assumptionsabout gender and language, and their relationship to the distribution and exercise of power at work.

Weiland Herrick, Jeanne. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (1999). Articles>Collaboration>Workplace>Gender


Buxom Girls and Boys in Baseball Hats: Adolescent Avatars in Graphical Chat Spaces  (link broken)   (PDF)

This paper explores the types of avatars adolescents use in graphical chat spaces and how gender is represented in these avatars. Content analysis found that adolescents predominately utilize publicly available avatars depicting drawn images of Caucasian human forms. Specifically it was found that females adopt postures that indicate subordination to others, while males display psychological withdrawal from the actions around them. The influence of gaming and fantasy is seen in male avatar selection.

Scheidt, Lois Ann. Indiana University (2004). Articles>User Interface>Collaboration>Gender


Chrysler's “Most Beautiful Engineer”: Lucille J. Pieti in the Pillory of Fame   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The case of Lucille Pieti, a technical writer at Chrysler, serves as a discipline-specific illustration of some of Rossiter's (1995) generalizations about women scientists and engineers after World War II. Like other women with engineering degrees, Pieti emerged from college with high hopes, only to find herself consigned to one of the traditional ghettos for women scientists and engineers: technical communication. Her case is unusual, however, because she became a national celebrity.

Malone, Edward A. Technical Communication Quarterly (2010). Articles>History>TC>Gender


Communicating for Diversity

Increasing diversity in the workplace and general marketplace is making it increasingly difficult to communicate effectively - whether you're a medical communicator, a procedure writer, a freelance copywriter or a web content writer. This article looks at two main types of barriers to effective communications - global barriers and gender barriers - and then provides insight on the tools available that can help overcome these communication barriers.

Harris, Kerri. Writing Assistance (2006). Articles>Business Communication>International>Gender


Communication and Gender in Workplace 2000: Creating a Contextually-Based Integrated Paradigm  (link broken)   (members only)

This conceptual article presents a critical review of gender-difference and gender-sameness theory and research. The focus is upon gender workplace communication, a topic often debated in the popular and organizational literature. A contextually-based integrated paradigm is proposed which represents a shift from a gender-difference foundation to a more integrated approach that includes the interaction of gender with Standpoint Theory, culture, organizational climate, and structure and task context. The network of shared meanings concept is introduced as having a major impact on gender communication orientation. Research using an example of communication to create a contextual meaning for social support is highlighted. Implications and conclusions for organizations, researchers, and educators are discussed.

Baker, Randolph T. and Lisa Zifcak. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (1999). Articles>Communication>Workplace>Gender


Communication and Women in Engineering

Women can be either encouraged or discouraged to take on the role of engineer through communication. Encouraging women to take on the role of engineer is imperative because of the lack of women currently in engineering.

Brown, Sarah. Orange Journal, The (2005). Articles>Workplace>Engineering>Gender


Editing for Gender Neutrality

How to be politically correct without mangling the English language. The goal is that the reader should not notice the writing.

Weber, Jean Hollis. Technical Editors Eyrie (1998). Articles>Writing>Style Guides>Gender


Educational Websites and Gender Equality: An Analysis of How Educational Websites Respond to Gender Differences in Use   (PowerPoint)

The integration of technology into education includes increased educational Internet and web use. However the websites used in and for education are rarely critically examined, especially in regard to gender equality, design, and use. Print has been argued to carry with it certain attributes that disturb gender equality, so it is likely that electronic writing might cause similar problems.

Bowie, Jennifer L. Texas Tech University (2003). Presentations>Education>Web Design>Gender


Emergent Feminist Technical Communication   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The feminist approaches to technical communication that have emerged recently are largely liberal feminist or radical feminist in orientation. Liberal feminism arises out of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment and emphasizes equality and rights. It sees that women's opportunities to develop their intellects and talents and participate freely in the world of men have been thwarted by discriminatory practices. Radical feminism, in contrast, emphasizes differences between women and men, the limitations of patriarchal culture, and the characteristics of women's ways of communicating and knowing. The essays included in this issue, while multidimensional, primarily exhibit characteristics of both liberal and radical feminism.

Flynn, Elizabeth A. Technical Communication Quarterly (1997). Articles>TC>History>Gender


An Emerging Electronic Rhetoric of the Body: Arguing the Feminine in Cyberspace  (link broken)   (PDF)

Some form of a body rhetoric has existed since classical times. If rhetoric can be loosely defined as a means of persuasion, then an electronic rhetoric of the body, for the purposes of this essay, can be defined as the ways in which the body is used to persuade, the ways it becomes the language of a culture for both genders. But what should we consider 'the electronic body' to consist of? The physical body? The mental body? And here is where the problem lies… But before an electronic rhetoric can be established, historical precedent must first be clarified.

Tulley, Ronald J. and Christine E. Tulley. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Rhetoric>Online>Gender


An Empirical Investigation of Color Temperature and Gender Effects on Web Aesthetics   (peer-reviewed)

Limited research exists on the relevance of hedonic dimensions of human-computer interaction to usability, with only a small set of this research being empirical in nature. Furthermore, previous research has obtained mixed support for gender differences regarding perceptions of attractiveness and usability in Web site design. This empirical research addresses the above gap by studying the effects of color temperature and gender on perceptions of Web site aesthetics.

Coursaris, Constantinos K., Sarah J. Sweirenga and Ethan Watrall. Journal of Usability Studies (2008). Articles>Web Design>Aesthetics>Gender


Endorsing Equity and Applauding Stay-at-Home Moms: How Male Voices on Work-Life Reveal Aversive Sexism and Flickers of Transformation   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

What can we learn about women’s organizational challenges by talking to men about gender roles and work-life? We attend to this question through an interview study with male executives, providing a close interpretive analysis of their talk about employees, wives, children, the division of domestic labor, and work-life policy. The study illustrates how executives’ tacit hesitancy about women’s participation in organizational life is closely connected to preferred gendered relationships in the private sphere. The case reveals a story of meaning in movement—aversive sexism marked by flickers of transformation—demonstrating how talk can both reveal and disrupt enduring gender scripts, and why hearing male voices is integral to addressing women’s work-life dilemmas.

Tracy, Sarah J. and Kendra Dyanne Rivera. Management Communication Quarterly (2010). Careers>Management>Discrimination>Gender


Exit, Voice, and Sensemaking Following Psychological Contract Violations: Women's Responses to Career Advancement Barriers   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Much of the theory guiding career development research is grounded in studies of men's careers in professional positions. In addition to largely ignoring the career experiences of women, the career literature pays little attention to overcoming barriers to career advancement in organizations—a challenge many women and men both face over the course of their career development. Using survey data, analyses of in-depth interviews, and a focus group discussion with female executives in the high-tech industry, this study finds variations of three responses: exit, voice, and rationalizing to remain are used by women in response to career barriers. These responses form the foundation of a career barrier sensemaking and response framework presented in the study. Findings indicate that perceived organizational sanctioning of career barriers and the organization's commitment to the career advancement of other women also influence participants' responses to barriers and their strategies for sensemaking, respectively.

Hamel, Stephanie A. JBC (2009). Careers>Business Communication>Collaboration>Gender


Feminist Theory and the Redefinition of Technical Communication   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

To study the possible impact of feminist theory on technical communication, this article discusses six common characteristics of feminist theory: (a) celebration of difference, (b) impact on social change, (c) acknowledgment of scholars' backgrounds and values, (d) inclusion of women's experience, (e) study of gaps and silences in traditional scholarship, and (f) new female sources of knowledge. Three debates within feminist theory spring out of these common characteristics: whether to stress similarity or difference between the sexes, whether differences come from biological or social forces, and whether feminist scholars can avoid reinforcing binary opposition. The article then traces the impact of these characteristics of feminist theory and debates within feminist theory on the redefinition of technical communication in terms of the myth of scientific objectivity, the new interest in ethnographic studies of workplace communication, and the recent focus on collaborative writing.

Lay, Mary M. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (1991). Articles>TC>Cultural Theory>Gender


Feminist Theory in Technical Communication: Making Knowledge Claims Visible   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This study extends the corpus of an earlier qualitative content analysis about women and feminism and identifies the knowledge claims and themes in the 20 articles that discuss gender differences. Knowledge claims are reflected in expressions such as androgyny; natural collaborators; hierarchical, dialogic, and asymmetrical modes; web; connected knowers; different voice; ethic of care; ethic of objectivity; continuous with others; connected to the world; the cultural divide; visual metaphor; and gender-free science. Built from knowledge claims, the themes in the 20 articles include gender differences in language use, learning, and knowledge construction; gender differences in collaboration; and reviews of research about gender differences and political calls for action. Although the 20 articles provide little support for the existence of gender differences, by introducing, discussing, testing, and revising new ideas about women and feminism, they serve as an example of the process of knowledge accumulation and remodeling in technical communication.

Smith, Elizabeth Overman 'Betsy' and Isabelle Thompson. STC Proceedings (2002). Articles>TC>Theory>Gender


Fighting the Non-Sexist Language Battle

Sexist language consists of various words and terms that foster stereotypes of social roles based on gender. Professional writers must keep abreast of significant changes in our language, and the issue of sexism is an integral change. Sexist language has become offensive. Sexist language is confusing.

Bourns, Tracy. Boston Broadside (1991). Articles>Writing>Diction>Gender


Five Reasons Why Women Are Better Technical Writers Than Men?

Maybe I’ve been very lucky but I believe women are far better as technical writers than men. Here are five areas where I think they have the edge of the guys.

Walsh, Ivan. I Heart Tech Docs (2009). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Gender


Gadget Problems Divide the Sexes

Men and women have different approaches to dealing with technology problems, according to a gadget helpline. The service found that 64% of its male callers and 24% of its female callers had not read the instruction manual before ringing up.

BBC (2009). Articles>Documentation>User Experience>Gender


Gender and Technical Communication: A Collection of Scholarly Articles   (Word)

Tasked with writing a book review of an edited volume within the field of technical communication, and being a feminist who is new to field, I first began searching for a volume dedicated to the changes that the feminist movement has prompted in the workplace. When I could not find that, I looked for a volume that discusses how feminism has affected the curriculum of technical communication. When I could not find that, I broadened my search to include all volumes about gender and technical communication. But there were no edited collections about gender issues in relation to technical communication. Instead, there is a gaping hole in the literature of the field. Lee Brasseur recognized the same deficiency while creating a college course that subverts the objectivist paradigm in technical communication. Because “there is no exclusive text on gender issues in technical communication,” she instead “chose from a variety of sources” ([1] p. 480) to build the curriculum.

Partridge-Doerr, Michelle. North Carolina State University (2008). Articles>Bibliographies>TC>Gender


Gender Disparities in the Design Field

Walk into any design classroom, at any college in America, and you’ll see a comfortable mix of male and female students. Turn your attention to the front of the classroom, or down the hall to the faculty and staff offices, and that wonderful gender balance starts to skew. Travel outside the campus, and there’s really no balance at all. But why? If there are design classrooms across the country with a 50/50 blend of men and women — and in many classrooms, there are more females than males — then why doesn’t the design field represent the same ratio?

Mindiola, John. Smashing (2010). Careers>Graphic Design>Education>Gender


Gender-Neutral Language  (link broken)

One of the most significant changes taking place in English is the rejection of the way that 'man' was assumed to include 'woman'. Most of us want our writing to be friendly and inclusive. How can we avoid using 'man', 'he', and 'his'?

Right Words. Articles>Writing>Style Guides>Gender


Gender-Neutral Technical Writing

Gender-neutral writing uses language that does not stereotype either sex nor appear to be referring to only one sex when that is not the writer's intention. In this article, you'll see why gender-neutral writing is important for technical writers to use, what gender-neutral writing is not, and how you can use gender-neutral writing in the documents you develop.

Weber, Jean Hollis. TECHWR-L (2002). Articles>Writing>Style Guides>Gender


Gender-Neutral Technical Writing

Gender-neutral writing uses language that does not stereotype either sex nor appear to be referring to only one sex when that is not the writer's intention. In this article, you'll see why gender-neutral writing is important for technical writers to use, what gender-neutral writing is not, and how you can use gender-neutral writing in the documents you develop.

Weber, Jean Hollis. STC Northeast Ohio (2002). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Gender



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