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Male teaching methods? - was: Re: Women in FOSS at OSWC II

Hi all, (guess I haven't posted here for ages...)

On Sun, Feb 26, 2006 at 09:06:47PM +1100, Pia Waugh wrote:
> (snipped lots of good stuff)
> ...  In that case, it turned out that his teaching methods were a
> very male way of learning, and so the women had to go out on their
> own a bit more to learn.

Could you elaborate on what you mean by "male" here in the context
of learning/teaching?

The reason I ask is that way back at university I was (among other
things) teaching introductory computer courses to students of the
social sciences (and therefore mostly women).

At the end of the courses, I usually asked for feedback and
constructive criticism, and sometimes I got remarks saying my teaching
style was mostly fine, "but a bit too male".  Now, I would really have
loved to understand that ('cos I'm a woman - at least biologically :)
I asked what they meant, but somehow they could never really enlighten
me about it...

Eventually, I figured they equated "male" with "technical", or, maybe 
more precisely, "analytic" (in the sense of taking things apart to
study how their constituents work, or why they don't...).  The latter
definitely seems to be a major trait of mine.  Already as a lil' girl,
I couldn't resist taking apart almost everything around me.  That
preferred mode of operation probably then got me into technical stuff,
first electronics, and later computers and programming.

Luckily, noone ever cared to train that weirdness out of me ;)  So,
nowadays, as a big girl, I still almost automatically unscrew things
that don't work, or virtually unscrew software to locate bugs.
(And yes, I do believe this to be a generally useful way to approach
technical stuff -- in part also because, as a beneficial side effect,
it makes you good at putting things back together again, or recombining
the parts...).

When thinking about it, I guess it's this aspect in which I'm most
different from "typical" (non-technical) women ("typical" in the
statistical status quo sense - not saying there's some biological
predetermination in effect here!).
In fact, it sometimes makes me go "grrr, why don't you just..." when
I see some other woman exhibit symptoms of learned helplessness, when
being faced with some technical device that doesn't do what it's
supposed to...  (I usually don't say anything, though, 'cos I realise
it may not necessarily be her fault alone - in the large, that is...).
Along similar lines, it has so far almost always been men who could
really deeply sympathise with me in this "analytic way".

OK, to come back to my original question, that's my take of why my
teaching style might have been perceived as male... Not sure, though.
Ideas, comments?


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