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"Diversity" in the translation industry
Thread poster: Gerard Barry

Becca Resnik  Identity Verified
United States
Member
German to English
+ ...
. Sep 29

Jocelin Meunier wrote:

It is well documented that men are encouraged to head toward "real skills", like science and math, while women are more encouraged to go toward literature or psychology. It's not like anyone tells boys "translation is not for men" the same way girls are told that they're not "logical enough" for math, for example.


Agreed! This is the root of why the diversity efforts don't (I dare say "don't need to") go both directions, in my opinion. I am a firm believer in [the pursuit of] eliminating double standards from both sides, whether that benefits me or hinders me. But there are certain situations that are just not equivalent, and I think this is one example. Not to say that more balanced communities aren't better for every field, but rather to say that the need is just not so strong the other direction.

At any rate, until two months ago, I was an engineer. The only one in my department (and one of the few in the factory) who was not a white male, and one of the few of my generation. Aside from a couple isolated incidents, such as once being asked "why a pretty girl like me would ever want to be an engineer," it was not a problem. The incidents were few and far between enough that I feel secure in saying that, generally speaking, I had a highly-successful career as an engineer for over a decade, and I was well-respected and treated just like one of the team. It definitely helps that I have a somewhat masculine personality and can make the rest of them blush with the jokes I would tell, which is all behavior I learned from my time in the service.

But for the most part, I simply conducted myself professionally and made my expertise and value implicitly known. I am also a firm believer, though, that no one person's journey with discrimination is equal to another's, so I am indeed curious to hear the original story(ies). After all, I have a handful of female colleagues who have had exceptionally negative experiences in STEM fields.

One final note - to paraphrase the speaker in a subtitling job I am coincidentally working on right now: If you look around and don't see people who look like you, even in leadership, then be that person. [Some might find it silly, but I was always proud to be a successful, well-liked, and well-respected woman in engineering. And I loved to see people's faces light up when they heard my story, as they were often young women or people with young daughters who were thinking about being engineers.]


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Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:32
German to English
+ ...
as a certified freelance translation Sep 30

The freelance part means that I just decided one day to hang out my shingle, and hope to attract customers. There is no hiring company, no quotas either way - either people choose your services or they don't. Since most translators seem to freelance, I would just assume that more women than men make that choice for whatever reason, rather than any gender (or race etc.) being shut out. It's not such a lucrative field, so maybe a lot of guys go to where the grass grows more green bills. I actu... See more
The freelance part means that I just decided one day to hang out my shingle, and hope to attract customers. There is no hiring company, no quotas either way - either people choose your services or they don't. Since most translators seem to freelance, I would just assume that more women than men make that choice for whatever reason, rather than any gender (or race etc.) being shut out. It's not such a lucrative field, so maybe a lot of guys go to where the grass grows more green bills. I actually don't know.

The certified part: When we do our exams here, we appear as a number to the examiner. You pass only on the merits of the quality of your work. The examiners don't know if you're male or female, or whether you are "native" or "non-native". They merely measure signs of competence based on what you produced.

I got stuck with a neutral name, and quite a few people seem to assume that I am male. That means I must have a logical and technical mind - which by chance I do (along with my share of intuition and the rest, which are shared by both sexes anyway). But I'm actually happy to have been "saddled" with this neutral name, because that prejudice also exists.
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Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:32
Member (2007)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Sex sells! Sep 30

Gerard Barry wrote:I'd be interested in hearing anyone else's thought on this matter, but I'd like especially to hear from other men how you find working in a female-dominated industry and having to put up with casual and institutionalised sexism from female colleagues, and employers.


Should you have any problems with that, then you should try to make a profit of it, i.e. by representing yourself on proz in an irresistible way: Pimp up your profile, i.e. with a profile image where you look like Jenghis Khan (or Hardy Krüger, for the German audience), take a fetching nickname (like Chris, Tom, Siegfried or Roy/Rolf), pretend some military career in your profile, do some work out every day and you will see, that you don´t need a Kudoz ranking anymore, and you will be flooded with jobs. Here is a video with an example, how to proceed:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wyx6JDQCslE


Chris S
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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:32
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yo Matthias! Sep 30

I say Yo because, after viewing that video, it seems to be the thang to say, know what ah'm sayin'?

And was that really ex-porn star Ron Jeremy taking off his shades amid the girlies at 0:43? You see, I know the name because some guys (guys, right, not gals, hey ...) were watching it with me, and they said so.

[Edited at 2020-09-30 06:25 GMT]


Chris S
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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:32
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Indefensible Sep 30

Becca Resnik wrote:
I am a firm believer in [the pursuit of] eliminating double standards from both sides, whether that benefits me or hinders me. But there are certain situations that are just not equivalent, and I think this is one example. Not to say that more balanced communities aren't better for every field, but rather to say that the need is just not so strong the other direction.

It's not a sliding scale, Becca. It's either right or it's wrong. We can't say it's "just not equivalent" and therefore the law doesn't, you know, really apply. We can choose to either legislate to prevent specific behaviours or not, but given that we have legislated we must apply the rules equally and fairly. Doing otherwise makes a mockery of the law, thus encouraging people to disrespect it, and exacerbates the kind of social division we've seen grow and intensify over the past decade or so.

To reiterate: if a man is discriminated against because of his sex, it is just as much of a problem for that person as a women being discriminated against because of hers. At the individual level the pernicious effects must be seen to be the same. It's morally repugnant to attempt to excuse or make light of the actions of one group of people when they infringe laws, yet insist that the another group be bound by them. We should be calling these attitudes out, not making light of them with a tolerant smile and a few platitudes. It's the thin end of a nasty wedge.

With regard to "This is the root of why the diversity efforts don't (I dare say "don't need to") go both directions, in my opinion", if the law is enforced then it will naturally scoop up more discrimination in areas where that discrimination is more common. In this case, that will probably mean that more sexism against females will be brought to light and penalised than sexism against males, which is right and proper, because there's more of it. But it's a huge step to go from that to saying "don't need to". No, we do need to. If the fight against discrimination is to to be won then sexism must be fought impartially, on both sides.

To bring this back to the original post, if a male translator is being discriminated against on the basis of his sex, he has as much right to expect redress as would a female translator in the same situation.

The key word here is "if". I note that the OP hasn't yet come up with any further evidence to support his assertions. If he has such evidence, why doesn't he begin a HR complaint, or even legal action?

Regards,
Dan

[Edited at 2020-09-30 07:00 GMT]


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Nah Sep 30

Dan Lucas wrote:

Becca Resnik wrote:
I am a firm believer in [the pursuit of] eliminating double standards from both sides, whether that benefits me or hinders me. But there are certain situations that are just not equivalent, and I think this is one example. Not to say that more balanced communities aren't better for every field, but rather to say that the need is just not so strong the other direction.

It's not a sliding scale, Becca. It's either right or it's wrong. We can't say it's "just not equivalent" and therefore the law doesn't, you know, really apply. We can choose to either legislate to prevent specific behaviours or not, but given that we have legislated we must apply the rules equally and fairly. Doing otherwise makes a mockery of the law, thus encouraging people to disrespect it, and exacerbates the kind of social division we've seen grow and intensify over the past decade or so.

To reiterate: if a man is discriminated against because of his sex, it is just as much of a problem for that person as a women being discriminated against because of hers


I’m with Becca. The aim is not to have an inviolable rule that applies universally and, er, indiscriminately. The aim should be to avoid harm. There is still room for common sense.

And the OP is clearly just having a laugh anyway.


Becca Resnik
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:32
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Yeah Sep 30

Chris S wrote:
I’m with Becca. The aim is not to have an inviolable rule that applies universally and, er, indiscriminately. The aim should be to avoid harm. There is still room for common sense.

You're effectively arguing that the application of a law on the statute books is optional. That's neither reasonable or sustainable.

If there's no need for an inviolable rule (a law), then the correct thing to do is not to legislate in the first place. That's a view with which I have a good deal of sympathy - we legislate too easily - but once it exists the law should indeed be applied universally within the limits it describes.

There already is a place for common sense, but it comes at an earlier stage: does a person who believes themselves to have been subject to discrimination invoke the full force of the law, or not? In some cases if they have any sense they'll walk away, but if the legal action is initiated you can no longer say "Nah, he's a bloke, it's no big deal". Or, to use a different scenario "Nah, she's rich, she's not gonna starve, it's no big deal."

EDIT: reading this back, it seems that we're probably talking about something very similar, i.e. a flexible, discretionary approach unless/until legal action occurs. That seems sensible to me.

Dan



[Edited at 2020-09-30 08:02 GMT]


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 05:32
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Setting aside the question of what is "obvious" and what is not... Sep 30

I look down on everybody equally. That seems to solve any problems.

Dan Lucas
Chris S
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Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:32
Member (2007)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Your friends may be right, bro ... Sep 30

Mervyn Henderson wrote:


And was that really ex-porn star Ron Jeremy taking off his shades amid the girlies at 0:43? You see, I know the name because some guys (guys, right, not gals, hey ...) were watching it with me

... because I too do not watch porn and would totally depend on other guys to spot out what you know. But Ron is a good example for our industry and the topic Gerard started: Didn´t Ron start a career as a translator after twenty terms of studying linguistics, and soon changed to the porn industry, after he became detected by a female PM of a California translation agency (who can be seen in 1:37)? They now live together on a tropical Island ("that tropical Island", do you remember?) and run again a translation agency, as far as I know. But I may be wrong.

[Bearbeitet am 2020-09-30 08:20 GMT]


 

Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:32
Member (2007)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Abuse of power ... Sep 30

... can happen everywhere, by every sex, nation, culture, religion concerning every sex, nation, culture, religion and what you have. In my 13 years as a translator, I made mainly good and some bad experiences (in terms of communication*) with PM of all kind of sex (with at least three kinds), and although our industry may be "dominated" by female PMs, I wouldn´t say that any of them has discriminated me just because I am a male, who does a job which is a bit untypically for the usual kind of m... See more
... can happen everywhere, by every sex, nation, culture, religion concerning every sex, nation, culture, religion and what you have. In my 13 years as a translator, I made mainly good and some bad experiences (in terms of communication*) with PM of all kind of sex (with at least three kinds), and although our industry may be "dominated" by female PMs, I wouldn´t say that any of them has discriminated me just because I am a male, who does a job which is a bit untypically for the usual kind of males. Just ask my neighborhood, what they think of a male, sitting or standing all the day in his flat, pretending to do work, but who is actually only watching funny youtube videos etc., then you may hear something in their reactions, which comes near to that Gerard was trying to talk about.

* statement comes out vice versa for rates

[Bearbeitet am 2020-09-30 09:02 GMT]
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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes, ish Sep 30

Dan Lucas wrote:
You're effectively arguing that the application of a law on the statute books is optional. That's neither reasonable or sustainable.

Isn't that how it works, though? If the law was clear-cut, we wouldn't need courts.


There already is a place for common sense, but it comes at an earlier stage: does a person who believes themselves to have been subject to discrimination invoke the full force of the law, or not? In some cases if they have any sense they'll walk away, but if the legal action is initiated you can no longer say "Nah, he's a bloke, it's no big deal".

If someone is harmed, fair enough, But 99 times out of 100 these "what about us blokes?" arguments should be filed with "white lives matter too". They just divert attention from what is important, probably deliberately.


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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:32
Member (2018)
French to English
. Sep 30

You wanna hear about sexism in translation? I have plenty, but I won't say anything in public for fear of attracting lawsuits.

Basically if you need to attract more men to any industry, you need to raise salaries and rates - and it might take more than readjusting for gender gap. Good luck with that.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:32
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Diana Sep 30

Years ago I was dining in London with my Canadian friend Diana, a fellow-architect, and she told me a story I've never forgotten.

At that time Diana was the project architect for the new DLR (metro) station at Canary Wharf, a task that involved going on site every morning at 8 a.m. and telling everybody what to do.

Back in the office, a junior architect (female) came to complain that she was being passed over for promotion because she was a woman.

Diana sai
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Years ago I was dining in London with my Canadian friend Diana, a fellow-architect, and she told me a story I've never forgotten.

At that time Diana was the project architect for the new DLR (metro) station at Canary Wharf, a task that involved going on site every morning at 8 a.m. and telling everybody what to do.

Back in the office, a junior architect (female) came to complain that she was being passed over for promotion because she was a woman.

Diana said "no, you're not being passed over for promotion because you are a woman. You're being passed over because your work sucks".



[Edited at 2020-09-30 09:36 GMT]
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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:32
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
People being content with too little Sep 30

Kay Denney wrote:
Basically if you need to attract more men to any industry, you need to raise salaries and rates - and it might take more than readjusting for gender gap. Good luck with that.

One thing that did strike me as a newcomer was that there seems to be a culture of low expectations among freelance translators. I don't think it has changed over the past few years, and I think that must have repercussions for negotiations and pricing.

One of the reasons I post on this forum is to try to counteract the sense of passivity exhibited by many freelancers, which I reckon to be related to the culture mentioned above. If you regard yourself as a helpless victim of circumstances, rather than a powerful and competent actor in your professional life, it's hard to create and maintain a successful business.

Dan


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Marina Taffetani  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 22:32
Member (2013)
German to Italian
+ ...
! Sep 30

Chris S wrote:


If someone is harmed, fair enough, But 99 times out of 100 these "what about us blokes?" arguments should be filed with "white lives matter too". They just divert attention from what is important, probably deliberately.




Amen to that!


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