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Issue #31: Women of Amateur Radio

Discussion in 'Trials and Errors - Ham Life with an Amateur' started by W7DGJ, Nov 21, 2023.

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  1. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    You're right -- my "ragchewing" on CW is entirely different than it is on SSB. There's little talk of bad backs, prostate issues, etc. It's focused on other stuff, primarily equipment and QTH discussions, etc. You really don't know how old your QSO partner is until you ask, and I never ask. Dave
  2. WN5BDN

    WN5BDN Ham Member QRZ Page

    You've nailed it again, Jim.

    Firstly, though - Nobody should have to hide under a bushel basket, especially when their light shines brightly - but even if not brightly. Everyone has an intrinsic right to be who they are. And an inherent, irreplaceable value. The world would be a sorry, stagnant place if everyone was the same. Implying that the "old white guys" of the hobby are extraneous or a "negative aspect" and should bug off to the old-age home would be ... a serious misjudgement. Because, aside from the exceptionally distasteful ethics of doing that... yeah, well, it's just not a good thing to try to force out a vital component of any group. But I digress here.

    I agree that the problem at hand, it seems, is the "they're all [fill in the blank here]" perceptions out there of the hobby and the biases that some people might have against whatever that blanket "they're all" group might be. If they have any impressions at all, that is. The bigger range and opportunities picture is not apparent. I would have hoped there was a national organization that was working in this arena? I have not done a lot of research and probably am missing what I'd want to see happening, but the only things of which I'm aware coming out of national or even regional groups is targeted pretty much only towards people already involved in the hobby. A closed loop.

    But I'm being redundant, sorry. It's already been said. Many times.

    I do think having people aware that the hobby exists and doesn't cost a small fortune to get into would definitely be a helpful start, though.
    WD4ELG, W7DGJ and N2EY like this.
  3. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Wow -- has anyone EVER said that? Certainly not here. And if they did (anywhere on QRZ forums) they'd be literally run out of town on a rail (remembering a scene from the classic film "O'Brother, Where Are't Thou?"). Dave
    AF5LS likes this.
  4. WN5BDN

    WN5BDN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I would HOPE not. But as the following was floated as an interpretation of what someone had said... it seemed appropriate to write what you've quoted. Theoretically, at least, it was meant to be supportive. My apologies if it was not, or if I misinterpreted the conversation.

    "What you seem to be saying is that I should hide my light under a bushel, and not present what I do as Amateur Radio. That I am obsolete, unwanted, Mr. Bad Example, and I should move to the back of the bus, sit down, shut up and go away."
    W7DGJ likes this.
  5. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes, I remember reading that. Clearly, I wasn't stating that and Jim was laying it on a bit thick (I'm a member of the same "club" he's commenting about as "bad examples.")

    Our hobby is actually about a dozen hobbies rolled into one, isn't it. The problem, as stated many times and by you as well, is that movies and TV and magazines and so on, shows only the one "version" of A.R. and we need to get that updated somehow (our "brand.) Dave
  6. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Maybe not in those exact words.

    But words that imply such things are fairly common here. Same for put-downs of engineers, CW operators, younger hams, people who live in the Northeast or California, people with college degrees....the list goes on and on and on. Heck, I've been called a "grape stomping papist wop" right here on the Zed, had my region, education and career insulted, called by a diminutive name, and much much more. It's not as bad as it used to be, but you can find all sorts of put-downs and personal attacks if you look.

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    WD4ELG and W7DGJ like this.
  7. WN5BDN

    WN5BDN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ah. Well, one can't always tell what was the intended message, and has to go by the response of the recipient. I have a very literal mind, and if I don't know someone I have nothing but the words themselves go navigate by. If he was joking back at you, more power to him. ;) But if he had really thought you were saying that? Not good.

    But back to the original - so why is there not some sort of action committee at a national or state level working on this? Not meaning to sound terribly naive, but what are organizations like ARRL doing?
    W7DGJ likes this.
  8. WN5BDN

    WN5BDN Ham Member QRZ Page


    Uh, wow, do I really want to be here?

    I'm an old lady. I've already fended off the 'cat lady' jokes here (which aren't actually funny, really, as they imply I don't have a life of my own). If it's going to potentially progress to slamming education (I have 3 diplomas) or religion (let's not even go there), or ethnicity, or having grown up in Texas but lived most of my life either in Calif or overseas, in addition to the steep learning curve of even the basic technical parts of the hobby.... Eww. Just eww. To quote a very trite saying "it only takes one bad apple" - one really bad conversation to just taint everything. I don't know about you, Jim, but my skin didn't come with a teflon coating. I'm sorry to hear that happened to you.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2023
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  9. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hey Jim, you're right. It's the "wild West" on the QRZ forums at times. But in recent years the forum moderator troop has been beefed up and they're pretty clear now that personal attacks like what you describe are not going to cut it.
  10. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm no spokesperson for the ARRL, but generally a supporter. When an organization like that gets to a certain size, the emphasis shifts a bit to self-preservation. Still, they have indeed launched a new magazine with a revised focus for the newer ham ("On the Air") and it helps to show other sides to the amateur radio services. There are a number of other efforts there as well, probably someone more familiar with those should comment. Personally, I've always felt that clubs could be an even better promoter of the hobby with their local element. Dave
  11. N2EY

    N2EY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Sure you do.

    The stuff I referred to was and is the work of a handful of folks who clearly have some sort of....issue....with someone like me. Or with engineers, people with degrees, people from certain parts of the USA, etc.

    Most Zedders aren't like that. I only brought it up to show that all sorts of stuff gets posted here. The mods do what they can, but it's unrerasonable to expect them to read and pass perfect judgment on every word of every post by every poster.

    I've gotten similar nonsense about "not having a life" and such. It's really rather funny when someone knows the reality.

    It's OK, I've learned that such bad behavior says more about the person behaving that way than the person they are attacking.

    Now to the subject at hand:

    I think the entire idea of "women in amateur radio" boils down to coming up with an ACCURATE way to present Amateur Radio to EVERYONE. Most people will say "that's nice" and not be interested - the trick is to reach those few who will be interested.

    One thing I remember clearly from my early radio days was that Amateur Radio was portrayed as something done by all sorts of people - young and old, male and female, rich and not-so-rich, urban and rural, famous and unknown, doing a wide variety of things involving RADIO. And that what really mattered was your skill and know-how.

    As stated before, the Big Problem we have is that so many people either don't know Amateur Radio exists, or, worse, their idea of what it is TODAY is very inaccurate.

    It didn't used to be that way. Amateur Radio, at least in the USA, used to be more "visible" - here's why:

    1) There was less need for "stealth" antennas. Americans were used to seeing antennas on homes - AM BC antennas, TV antennas, amateur radio antennas, etc. Everyone knew that "radios" needed "antennas". Same for cars - a car with a 2-way radio inside was unusual!

    2) Short Wave Listening (SWLing) was a big thing. Many people had radios with "short wave" bands, and they'd encounter amateurs while tuning around. SWBC stations are almost gone now.

    3) TVI and BCI were common. While not good publicity, people knew we existed. (Fun fact: in the original Twilight Zone series, Amateur Radio is mentioned in two episodes: "Black Leather Jackets" and "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street". Both mentions are negative!)

    4) Public service by hams was common. Technological and infrastructure improvements have greatly reduced this. Example: phone patches from Vietnam, 50+ years ago.

    5) Prominent people with amateur licenses, such as Barry Goldwater

    6) Books and magazines for the general public, such as Popular Science, Popular Electronics, etc., would have articles on Amateur Radio.

    7) Lack of competition. Go back a few decades and there were no PCs, no cellphones, long distance phone calls were expensive, most people had only a few TV channels, etc. Heck, I remember when most cars had just an AM radio and that was it! Anyone interested in "electronics" soon encountered Amateur Radio.

    And that's the short list.

    So - how do we make ourselves more visible, and in a positive way?

    73 de Jim, N2EY
    W7DGJ likes this.
  12. WN5BDN

    WN5BDN Ham Member QRZ Page

    [Sorry about that freakout. :rolleyes: ]

    Back to the question - I don't know. I suppose one could maybe poll a lot of clubs (and sellers of ham equipment, etc.) and ask them what kind of "newbie" traffic they are seeing, and if they've been doing anything that has resulted in increased numbers? And what THEY think is needed to do that? And then replicate that a bit elsewhere to see if it's something that would fly on a larger scale? Send out a Survey-Monkey to all the registered clubs and known entities? Just to avoid trying to re-invent the wheel. It would miss a large amount of sources, but it'd be better than having no info. Unless it's already been done, that is.

    Otherwise, aside from being more visible (attending community events, good press, and similar) I'd say it'll be down to word-of-mouth. I'm afraid that's all I can come up with, sorry!

    [I remember phone patches to Vietnam - had an uncle who ended up hospitalized over there. And I still try to listen to shortwave, though the BBC stopped transmitting to North America years ago. Bummer, that!]
    W7DGJ likes this.
  13. KE5HCQ

    KE5HCQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I find this line of reasoning interesting. I have been licensed as a Tech since 2006, but I have only started to be more active in the hobby in the past year. I have been considering joining the local club, but I'm not sure if it's worth my time. What if I pay my dues, start attending, and find that it's embroiled in politics or not involved in activities I care about? Is it worth trying to make changes and inspire others to make positive changes and keep the club going, or is it more worth starting a whole new club and letting the old one dwindle with the folks that are still invested in it?
    W7DGJ and WN5BDN like this.
  14. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Dane,

    Great question. First, know that ANY club is going to want you to be a member. The clubs I've been associated with over the years love to have Tech class license members, because they are on the upswing in interest and are often young enough to bring energy, enthusiasm and more to the club. They learn from the older members, the older members learn from them, and the entire club benefits. Sure, clubs can devolve into politics, all clubs. But for the most part, due to how difficult it is to start a new club from the ground up, I would strongly recommend that you explore the local clubs. Be very cautious of one that feels like a "clique." If they are open and friendly, and they have activities groups that appeal to you, give it a try. Ham clubs are fun and can really add to your knowledge base and the enjoyment you get out of the hobby, Dave
    KE5HCQ likes this.
  15. W9TR

    W9TR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Another interesting article Dave. I lived in Olathe from 1993 to 2001 and had never heard of the Marshall and Loretta Ensor amateur radio station. I even worked at the ‘Radio Ranch’ with a lot of other hams. I wasn’t active at the time. Raising a family and increasing corporate duties left little time for ham radio.

    I think this is germane to this conversation because we have an opportunity to increase the amount of outreach we all do. I should have known about this station but had no idea. If there was outreach it didn’t get to me.

    As has been noted there is a lot of competition for people’s share of mind today that wan’t there when I was licensed.

    I think Amateur Radio is an electronics hobby first and foremost. Yes there are a lot of ancillary aspects that may attract people today, but electronics is core to the hobby.

    At the same time there has been a resurgence in DIY in the form of the maker movement, the hacker movement, and the robotics movement.

    I’d guess there are more people building audio amplifiers today than amateur radio projects with ‘Amp Camps’ supported by Nelson Pass and some amazing creativity in the ‘glass audio’ community.

    Even our small town robotics team is a big thing for students from 6th grade on. They even compete against college level teams with the help of some local hams. There are as many females as males on our teams.

    All of this points to better outreach. We can and should reach into existing the maker, hacker, and robotics communities to tell our story. Major cities have dedicated maker spaces and robotics is a formally supported activity in middle and high schools with a national organization and regional competitions.

    I don’t know how much ham radio organizations are embracing these other communities. I don’t see a lot of evidence but my view may be limited.

    But I think these maker, hacker, and robotics communities have done a pretty good job at creating spaces where all kinds of people can feel comfortable participating regardless of gender, race, or other factors that really don’t matter.
    W7DGJ likes this.

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