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Gender imbalance in ham radio

Discussion in 'The YL Zone' started by F4WBW, Feb 12, 2016.

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  1. F4WBW

    F4WBW Ham Member QRZ Page

    There's an interesting blog article on Reddit that seems to be making the rounds lately:
    Basically, a YL in the US is rejecting the YL tag because she claims that she finds that she is treated poorly on the air by OM hams. Personally, I kind of wonder if this is a US problem, because in my (few and far between) contacts with the US, I simply haven't run into it.

    Here in France, YLs make up a mere 5% of the ham population (and we get free entrance to ham conventions and other events!), plus I was originally attracted to the ham world because I found my husband's ham buddies to be a genuinely nice bunch of guys. Since getting my license I've had nothing but encouragement from them.

    I'm hoping this ham does write an article for QST, if only to see how it is received. But I really wonder if the problems she is encountering are perhaps mostly US related.
    KC9ARP and N6QIC like this.
  2. W7CJD

    W7CJD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I attended a big ham fest. I started into one tent for a session on a radio amateur interest.
    I had an OM put his hand and arm out to block my way, and redirect me to food prep, saying wives and girl friends that way.
    I bought an embroidered hat, and put that ham fest pin on it.
    More than a few men looked uncomfortable, in the sessions for radio amateurs and the social events as well.
    My impression is it is a vestige of all the Menbers Only clubs for men.
    The only time I have ever been asked to participate, actually participate in Field Day, I was told a female voice gets more contacts.
    I know my voice was heard more clearly over a PA system, the announcer explaining a female voice is heard better over a PA system.
    I think that works for amateur radio, as well.
    Only I want no part of YL or XYL.
    To me, that is like a biker referring to his Old Lady.
    I think that is offensive.
    I don't care for any part of the "old boys" club of amateur radio.
    Not only that, I have no interest in "hams" or "hamming it up".
    I like the radio amateur hobby, just not most radio amateurs "on-the-air".
    It is not interesting to me.
    Most participants in QRZ forum have no idea I am female. That is about "as good as it gets" and isn't that a comment!
    I like the hobby. That's it. Nothing more. Certainly not, the "social" part.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2016
    UB9HDK, KM6S, KX4QF and 7 others like this.
  3. F4WBW

    F4WBW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wow, I'm really sorry to hear that you had that kind of experience. I wonder if perhaps it reflects something about how contentious things have gotten back in the US (or so it seems from the news we get over here in France these days).

    The funny thing is that I took my husband to Dayton 10 or 15 years ago - and wound up having a ball there myself, although I wasn't yet into ham radio. I had had a colleague in Germany who expressed astonishment at how "American women" had turned shopping into a competitive sport and I had a big chuckle at seeing the guys in Dayton take competitive shopping to heights I had certainly never seen before!

    But I would love to see some articles in QST from the YL point of view, perhaps taking on topics that are less technical than what they seem to publish lately. I got into ham ultimately for the social aspect (though I enjoy knowing how technical stuff works and all). The fact that I can meet and chat with folks from around the world (sometimes from countries I've never heard of) and that I can practice my languages (German and French) from the comfort of the shack. Have just started getting into digital modes (PSK31 for the moment) and noticed many hams automatically address each other as OM. It's kind of fun to see their reactions when I "correct" them - but so far everyone has been cordial. On phone, I agree completely that being a YL is a major plus and has led to some interesting conversations.
    KC9ARP and W4MYJ like this.
  4. F4WBW

    F4WBW Ham Member QRZ Page

    YL in and of itself doesn't denote anything about marital status. Though I had it all wrong at first, a YL is (as far as I know) simply a female ham. And in some countries and cultures, the local equivalent of Mrs. is used for all women over the age of majority (usually 18).

    The term YL certainly doesn't bother me. OTOH, I have detected a whiff or two of testosterone in some of the discussions here on QRZ - particularly in the Rag Chew section as the discussion flirts with some of the Topics That Cannot Be Discussed. Or even the inevitable moans about no-code extras or other categories of hams not sufficiently into the more technical side of the hobby/metier/whatever it is. People of all sexual (and other) persuasions get into ham radio for lots of different reasons, some having little or nothing to do with the technology.
  5. KC9ZHV

    KC9ZHV Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is why i stay with my repeater system.. If i go out side my repeater system i am treated like crap... Reason we started up and the data center hub etc.. If people dont like me they can just turn the dial.. So far it has kinda worked however I stay away from ARES stuff and meetings along with other clubs etc for the reasons listed above... I really dont want to go any further on here about this topic because i have been called much worse than om on the air..
  6. F4WBW

    F4WBW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Boy, this thread is quite an education for me. On the air, I've had nothing but cordial treatment and warm welcomes to the hobby (maybe the French call sign helps). I'm a relatively new ham (just got licensed last year) but I worked for many years at the manager level in several big American companies and basically learned to pretty much get over, under, around or through the macho bull. Figure on the radio, anyone who doesn't like what they hear can always change frequencies. Have also hung out on Internet forums long enough to avoid pointless arguments (or "battles of wits with unarmed opponents").

    The YLs here in France have only just set up an association and I get the feeling we're casting about for what to do next. (Since it's France-wide, we're kind of limited to the various ham shows for getting together face-to-face.) I'm located in something of a radio-club desert - no radio groups within a reasonable commuting distance - though there are the informal gatherings of my husband's long-time radio buddies who have become buddies of my own. Part of it is that ham licenses in France are definitely on the decline. The licensing requirements have gotten a bit discouraging to newcomers and the national organization, REF, doesn't have nearly the lobbying clout as the ARRL does in the States. The YLs do manage to get space in the REF magazine each issue and have a couple of certificates set up for YL contacts both within France and worldwide. And it was my wandering into the YL meeting at Friedrichshafen that convinced me to get my license in the first place. The German YLs are a fun, outgoing and very welcoming group. (Still trying to find them on the air, though.)
    MI0YLT likes this.
  7. W7CJD

    W7CJD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have been around men in my college and university education in science and technology, and in the workplace all my life.
    I have four older brothers, no sisters.
    I was in the United States Army, as well.
    I want to be perfectly clear, I have had decades of abuse from radio amateurs in the USA, not Canada, not elsewhere.
    I tried to just find out where are the exams, the testing materials, clubs, organizations, other radio amateurs.

    The "Members Only" phenomenon, in the USA, of the "men only" private clubs is what is prevalent in the radio amateur hobby in the USA.
    It is not testosterone.
    It is not "boys will be boys".
    It is meanspirited blatant misogyny, you can see right here in this forum from time to time.
    It is not an isolated incident.
    I was consistently pleasant and easy to get along with.
    I only recently started getting outspoken.
    Get on the radio.
    Get ignored.
    I had my license.
    No response. Not California. Not Montana.
    The first response was from Canada.
    The only road-assist, a Canadian.
    The only person I have spoken to on all our local repeaters is a man from Canada.
    USA no, not on-the-air.
    Recently, there is improvement for woman and girls. Not so much, but something.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 2, 2016
    KX4QF, W4MYJ and N4AAB like this.
  8. N6QIC

    N6QIC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Please remember, This forum is exclusively for YL members of QRZ.

    Thank you,


    Last edited: Mar 24, 2016
    MI0YLT, KC9ZHV and PD5SJO like this.
  9. N6QIC

    N6QIC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The term YL would not be offensive like "Old lady" might be. The term YL stands for "Young Lady" XYL is when you are married, on ham radio you are referred to as an XYL, an "X Young Lady". But I understand what she is saying, When I talk on the radio I never use any type of ham lingo what so ever, and have never been to a field day.
    KC9ZHV likes this.
  10. F4WBW

    F4WBW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Which raises an interesting point: do women perhaps have somewhat different reasons for getting into ham radio than the guys do? Or at least some of us do. Like you, I have no particular interest in field days, and it's something of a PITA to find that HF is taken up on weekends (when I finally have a chance to spend some time in the shack) with the contesting. Since getting onto the air last year, it has been a bit disappointing to find that most contacts are of the "wham, bam, thank you m'am" variety. The few rag chews I've managed to get in on have been lots of fun and I've met some really interesting people. But hey, different strokes and all.

    To my mind, there is definitely a "gender imbalance" in radio - but it has little or nothing to do with the term YL. The experiences some of the YLs have reported here are unacceptable - being shown the kitchen when one wants to attend a conference is stupid and insensitive prejudice no matter where or when it happens. I tend, however, to see these sorts of things as resulting from the general tendency of society (maybe particularly American society) to becoming more divisive, and less tolerant of those who are "different" - or to bury themselves in the technology with no regard for the individuals they encounter.

    I don't really want to get political, but you only have to look at the American presidential campaign to see where aggression and intolerance of anyone who is different has become the operating mode du jour. (Trust me, seeing it from overseas is even more discouraging than being in the thick of it.) You see it here on the forums as remarks about "no-code extras" (of which I am one, proudly) and how "easy" the ham tests have become since the poster walked uphill both ways (backwards) in a blizzard to take their exams that included fast and flawless CW, not to mention building a radio from scratch or drawing flawless schematics for a yet-to-be-developed transceiver or proving their perfect soldering skills.

    Ham radio is a whole new world of POSSIBILITIES once you get your license. And yes, some hams just want to hunker down with a sort of tribal mentality and rant about all the "others" who don't meet their standards. And perhaps our goal as YLs isn't necessarily to "break into" those closed groups, but rather to make and shape ham radio to our needs and aspirations.
    KM6S, N5JEO, N3FH and 3 others like this.

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