Men are clueless July 13, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in engineerblogs.org, engineering, societal commentary.
Tags: communication, feminism, sexism, sexist comments
I wrote up a post over at EngineerBlogs yesterday called Dating Advice for Women Engineers. (Yeah, I forgot to post a link here…) After I wrote it up and posted it, I reread it and realized that maybe a better title should’ve been something like “A Woman’s Guide to Dating Male Engineers”. And then I worried that I was going to get ragged on for making male engineers sound stupid or clueless. Fortunately, there have been no such responses, which is good because while some may assume that was the implication, that would be a false assumption.
Here’s the thing I’ve come to understand: many males, but particularly male engineers, aren’t clueless. I know that may come as a surprise to some. The reality is that I think engineers expect people to just be direct. And frankly, I really appreciate that. I like being able to just say what I think to my husband and not try to couch everything in terms that won’t injure his ego. And I know that if he says something critical, it’s not that he’s saying he doesn’t like me or anything, he just is making a point about something. It’s a lot easier for us to separate our personal feelings and feelings about outside issues. We can argue passionately about stuff we do at work, and it has nothing to do with whether or not I like him as a person.
I’ve never been good at the whole ‘dropping hints’ thing. That’s probably a good thing because I have also observed that a lot of guys think that when you say something doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t. Being subtle and dropping hints have never been terribly effective means of communicating what you want, despite the fact I see people doing it all the time. When I do see someone trying it, I seem to pick it up sometimes, but I usually roll my eyes and think, “Just spit it out already!”
Anyway, the point of this was that I think people ought to just be more direct. Tactful is also appreciated and ought to be used liberally…but not to the point where it obfuscates your message. And if someone doesn’t get what you’re saying (especially if it’s a guy), it may be because he’s clueless, but it’s also worthwhile to see how clearly you’re communicating.