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Is this expression condescending and aggressive?
Thread poster: Catherine Brix

Catherine Brix
Local time: 23:18
Swedish to English
+ ...
Apr 3, 2004

....management jobs are still a male preserve...

I was recently told by a non-native English speaker that the above phrase could be perceived as condescending and aggressive.
I don't see it and I get loads of supporting Google hits. I'd appreciate input from both men and women as to how the phrase is perceived. Would the term "domain" be a better alternative?

Thanks in advance.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Context? Apr 3, 2004

On the face of it, it is stating a fact, one that we all know, the fact that men still get the best jobs and the higher up the ladder, the fewer women. It is also a fact that can be proved (i.e obtaining statistics on women at various levels of employment) and a fact that states the truth cannot be considered aggressive, even if some people don't like it:-)

However, out of context, it is hard to really assess the phrase.

For example, it it a male or female who says it? Is it in a text about bisiness, or about women, is it a radical feminist diatribe, etc etc

I am not too sure that a non-native is in a position to make this claim, there is a kind of sensitivity to the message in language that only native speakers (usually) have.

preserve, domain, I would say preserve, but check the two collocations in Google (exc. non-native writers).

[Edited at 2004-04-03 12:37]


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Rod Darby  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 21:18
German to English
+ ...
no Apr 3, 2004

we use 'preserve' to make an observation, without implying either that we endorse or condemn the fact. To this extent, it doesn't make any difference whether the observation is made by a man or a woman. If you wanted to add your opinion on the situation, you'd have to add something to the phrase/add a qualifying phrase.
Just my humble opinion (though I have been speaking English since the mid 40's!)


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Eric Engle
Germany
Local time: 23:18
German to English
+ ...
context is key Apr 3, 2004

This phrase could be sexist and thus politically incorrect or merely an objective observation depending on context. I would if possible say "unfortunately, etc. male preserve". Then you're not off the hook and feminine colleagues or applicants will not be upset. I think silence here would be interpreted as endorsing the status quo. I'm a native speaker, feel free to email me with your complete text, no charge. No sensible man wants to upset women. It's bad interpersonal relations and bad for business.

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Catherine Brix
Local time: 23:18
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Context, of course Apr 3, 2004

This is for an article published in a corporate magazine for internal use - focus is on diversity, particularly gender diversity, and includes interviews with female employess (none of which advocate gender quotas). The paragraph is in ref to a survey, and reads:
Results recently presented from the IBOS show that Sweden is trailing behind regarding the number of women in top company management. An international comparison shows that management jobs are still a male preserve in Sweden..."

And the person taking offense is a man - that's why I was wondering if I was being insensitive to how this could be perceived by men...and since men are obviously still in the driver's seat, there's no point in appearing condescending and aggressive if the goal is change. I'm just the translator, I wouldn't want to disrupt good efforts by using the wrong terminology.

I appreciate that you all have taken the time on a Saturday to share your opinions.
Thank you.


[Edited at 2004-04-03 19:12]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
still see it as perfectly OK - it's a fact and there's no changing facts Apr 3, 2004

It's the man who has the problem (and a big one, whether personal and/or with language) not your sentence!!!!!!!!!

The statement is a statement of FACT, as evidenced by the source provided:

"Results recently presented from the IBOS show that Sweden is trailing behind regarding the number of women in top company management. An international comparison shows that management jobs are still a male preserve in Sweden..."

The tables at the end of this academic article about women in management http://www.meyersson.com/glassceiling2003.pdf will prove that the statement is a fact.

I don't see it as at all aggressive or condescending (see definitions just for comparison). Look at it this way, if your colleague is not happy with it, let's see how can he can change what is a 'fact' to make it less a fact? He couldn't, without manipulating the essential information.

COLLINS definitions

aggressive [ə'grɛs©¥v]
adjective
1 quarrelsome or belligerent
example: an aggressive remark
2 assertive; vigorous
example: an aggressive business executive
ag'gressively adverb(ial)
ag'gressiveness noun

condescending [ˌkɒnd©¥'sɛnd©¥©¯]
adjective showing or implying condescension by stooping to the level of one's inferiors, esp. in a patronizing way
"conde'scendingly adverb(ial)

From Google you will see (and provide evidence to your colleague) that the expression is widely used, including in the conservative business sector and by academics whose language is deliberately non-confornatational.

Here is a Men's Studies site:

However, what has caused the sexual imbalance in the workforce? In the past, a career in the paid workforce was usually seen as a male preserve***. Both men and women acquiesced in this arrangement. The 1907 Harvester decision stated a male worker was to be paid sufficient to keep a family of five.

http://www.mioms.com/articles.php?action=detail&ID=1

Here is an article co-written by a man & a women in the Accounting field, citing Barclay's Bank (surely a 'male preserve'):

"We have opened a number of new branches during the year, including one in the West End of London under the management of a member of our women staff, Miss E. M. Harding. This interesting experiment has been hailed in some quarters as a portent, as indeed in a sense it is, but it may also be regarded as a ****natural and perhaps somewhat belated recognition that the holding of responsible posts in contact with our customers is no longer necessarily an exclusively male preserve."**** (Barclays, corporate annual report, 1958)

http://les.man.ac.uk/ipa97/papers/adams29.html

A PR company:

And following national and international trends, ***the profession moved from being a largely all-white, all-male, preserve to an ethnically diverse, gender-integrated enterprise***

http://www.google.es/search?q=cache:ZwYtuJhq5uwJ:www.instituteforpr.com/pdf/HistoryofPublic%20Relation--Institute.pdf%20"male%20preserve"%20+%20management%20%20facts%20and%20figures%20UK&hl=en&ie=UTF-8

Personnel Management:

...for many men this dilemma was resolved by the industrial relations focus which was to emerge in the 1970s in which bargaining and negotiating with trade unions became very much a ****male preserve and one with a much more dynamic image.

http://www.dcu.ie/dcubs/research_papers/no17.htm



[Edited at 2004-04-03 20:18]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just some examples with 'female' Apr 3, 2004

Unable to reproduce them, but search under "still a female preserve" and you will find loads of sites.


[Edited at 2004-04-03 20:19]

[Edited at 2004-04-03 20:20]


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Jane Griffiths  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:18
Italian to English
It looks fine to me Apr 3, 2004

The terminology of "Results recently presented from the IBOS show that Sweden is trailing behind regarding the number of women in top company management. An international comparison shows that management jobs are still a male preserve in Sweden..." looks fine to me - a straightforward statement of fact.

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Catherine Brix
Local time: 23:18
Swedish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all Apr 3, 2004

for your input. As I said, this is a non-native English speaker so I believe he must have confused the meaning of preserve with another word - or so I hope.

Have a lovely weekend - what remains of it.


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suisola  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
Answer May 12, 2004

I wouldn´t personally take offence or something of the sort if I read that. In fact, to me, "preserve" and "domain" aren´t that different. Yet, if you want to shrugg of any misinterpretation, maybe you could use some neutral word such "area", "field". Hope you sort it out! Susana

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