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

Gerard Barry
Germany
Local time: 05:19
German to English
Sep 29

Hi all,

As a man working in the translation sector, it's pretty obvious that a) the number of men working in the field is very small and b) there are no efforts on anyone's part to change this. Yet when women are underrepresented in any field (and even when they are very well represented!), there are are all sorts of initiatives to increase their numbers. 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 wo
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Hi all,

As a man working in the translation sector, it's pretty obvious that a) the number of men working in the field is very small and b) there are no efforts on anyone's part to change this. Yet when women are underrepresented in any field (and even when they are very well represented!), there are are all sorts of initiatives to increase their numbers. 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.
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Askar Usin
Julius Molok
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:19
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Problem Sep 29

Gerard Barry wrote:

Hi all,

As a man working in the translation sector, it's pretty obvious that a) the number of men working in the field is very small and b) there are no efforts on anyone's part to change this. Yet when women are underrepresented in any field (and even when they are very well represented!), there are are all sorts of initiatives to increase their numbers. 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.


I think you have a problem.


Emanuele Vacca
expressisverbis
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Marina Taffetani
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Robert Rietvelt
writeaway
 

expressisverbis
Portugal
Local time: 04:19
Member (2015)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Why don't you... Sep 29

Gerard Barry wrote:

there are no efforts on anyone's part to change this.


... start to change your mindset?


[Edited at 2020-09-29 15:15 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-09-29 15:19 GMT]


Mervyn Henderson
Robert Rietvelt
writeaway
Yolanda Broad
Philip Lees
Teresa Borges
 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:19
German to English
Sexism, really? Sep 29

Gerard Barry wrote:

having to put up with casual and institutionalised sexism from female colleagues, and employers.


I have yet to experience this.

Is this a troll?




[Edited at 2020-09-29 15:32 GMT]


Mervyn Henderson
Tom in London
Robert Rietvelt
expressisverbis
writeaway
Sheila Wilson
Yolanda Broad
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:19
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Tell us more Sep 29

Gerard Barry wrote:
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.

As a freelancer, I don't have a problem with sexism from either colleagues or employers, nor have I personally encountered it in other industries. However, it seems pretty clear that women dominate the industry, at least in terms of numbers. It would be interesting to see they dominate the industry on an average-earnings basis (I suspect that on that metric men fare rather better, but I have no evidence).

The likelihood of people engaging with you seriously is rather low. Responses here (if the thread is not deleted) will probably fall into one of three categories.

First, the head-in-the-sand response: "Discrimination? What discrimination?", often combined with an accusation of incompetence on the part of the men in question.

Second, the two-wrongs-make-a-right response: "Women have often been discriminated against in other fields, so men should not only expect some discrimination in return, but put up with it."

Third, the deflect-by-shaming response: "Aahh diddums, you're worried about those big nasty girls? Poor little boy!".

If you think about it, all three of these responses have some pretty unpleasant implications. It is worth noting that none of them would be considered acceptable if they were used to argue against doing anything in relation to an industry dominated by men. So there's clearly a double standard at work in many cases, but this has been the situation for a few decades now.

I agree that in other industries with a preponderance of men we have generally had calls for "redress" in the form of quotas for women, but I don't see that as something to emulate in industries where men are outnumbered, such as nursing, human resources, or translation. Quotas that could be interpreted as promoting at the expense of ability simply cast doubt on the competence of those so promoted.

The real issue to my mind is whether as a society we want to walk ever further down the path of insisting on guaranteed equality of outcomes, rather than equality of opportunities. The latter is a worthy goal. The former is an impossible and divisive dream, but still has currency among some sections of the population, particularly academia and certain professions.

Having said all that, and getting back to your original post. I am genuinely interested as how you feel you have been discriminated against.

Regards,
Dan

[Edited at 2020-09-29 15:38 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 05:19
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Gerard Sep 29

Gerard Barry wrote:
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.


I have not yet experienced institutionalised sexism as a male translator (nor have I seen it). In fact, I often get the impression that female colleagues sometimes go out of their way to be welcoming to male colleagues, possibly due to them being so scarce in this field.

Casual sexism is just something that one has to put up with when it occurs. Of course I have experienced that, and the visibility (or malice) of it is enhanced in groups, e.g. in work meetings with just one man and several women, but I believe that a man should not get his knickers in a twist when it happens unless it approaches the point of abuse or harassment. I feel the same way about casual sexism towards female translators. You have to make peace with the fact that you're going to be meeting a lot of people who are different.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
"casual and institutionalised sexism from female colleagues, and employers" Sep 29

I'm with you, believe me, but can you give me a few examples to back up our global case? Anonymised, natch. But address them to "Agnes Parker", please. Yes, I'm too scared to have my real name being bandied around out there in femland.

Yours,

Agnes


expressisverbis
P.L.F.Persio
Angela Burt
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:19
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Vive la difference Sep 29

Samuel Murray wrote:

you're going to be meeting a lot of people who are different.


.... and that seems to be Gerard's problem.



[Edited at 2020-09-29 15:44 GMT]


P.L.F.Persio
Yolanda Broad
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
It can be so hard Sep 29

Gerard, I remember vividly when I used to work in-house and was always the one who had to change the lightbulbs and fix the taps, it was so demeaning.

Initially I tried reverting to type and not washing or using deodorant, thinking they’d leave me alone, but it just confirmed their hurtful prejudices.

So then I thought, if you can’t beat them, join them, so I started cross-dressing. Drastic, I know, but there was a principle involved.

But still I felt e
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Gerard, I remember vividly when I used to work in-house and was always the one who had to change the lightbulbs and fix the taps, it was so demeaning.

Initially I tried reverting to type and not washing or using deodorant, thinking they’d leave me alone, but it just confirmed their hurtful prejudices.

So then I thought, if you can’t beat them, join them, so I started cross-dressing. Drastic, I know, but there was a principle involved.

But still I felt excluded from their nailcare discussions, and all hell broke loose when I started using the ladies’ lavs.

So then I sued for wrongful dismissal and took them to the European court - and won!

So the moral of the story is that you mustn’t let them get you down, keep fighting for what is right and what is real! Godspeed!


[Edited at 2020-09-29 15:50 GMT]
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Mervyn Henderson
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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
A tip Sep 29

Change your name on here to something androgynous like Chris. Et voila, no more discrimination online at least.

(My real name is Siegfried)


Mervyn Henderson
P.L.F.Persio
Yolanda Broad
expressisverbis
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:19
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
That reminds me Sep 29

Incidentally, this post reminded me of a television interview I saw, many years go, with a newly appointed and very senior female police office in the UK. I think she might have been a Chief Constable.

She was standing there with her younger, uniformed male assistant, talking to the camera, and the interviewer asked her if there had been any problems with sexual harassment in the force.

"Sexual harassment? I'm not sure." she said in cheerful puzzlement, turning to her a
... See more
Incidentally, this post reminded me of a television interview I saw, many years go, with a newly appointed and very senior female police office in the UK. I think she might have been a Chief Constable.

She was standing there with her younger, uniformed male assistant, talking to the camera, and the interviewer asked her if there had been any problems with sexual harassment in the force.

"Sexual harassment? I'm not sure." she said in cheerful puzzlement, turning to her assistant. "Didn't you apply for some of that, David? Did you have any luck getting any?"

"Er, no, ma'am" he said, clearly struggling to keep a straight face, "none at all".

Obviously it wouldn't be considered remotely acceptable these days - that large segment of Twitterati that treats finding things to be offended about as a competitive sport would be clutching their pearls and hyperventilating - but at the time I nearly spat my cocoa out. I'm pretty sure I can't have been the only one.

Dan


[Edited at 2020-09-29 16:22 GMT]
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Mervyn Henderson
P.L.F.Persio
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
@Dan Sep 29

Definitely a delicious story behind that interview. I wasn't drinking cocoa today when I read it, but shamefully I know I would have spat it out too.

P.L.F.Persio
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
OT Sep 29

Mervyn Henderson wrote:
I would have spat it out too.


Which takes us neatly back to yesterday’s poll


 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ha-ha Chris Sep 29

I'm such a callous so-and-so in the threads, I couldn't even recall which one you meant!!

 

Jocelin Meunier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:19
English to French
Nope Sep 29

I can't remember a single time I had to put up with sexism (as a guy), but I do believe that translation being female-dominated is caused (among other things of course) by sexism. 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.
... See more
I can't remember a single time I had to put up with sexism (as a guy), but I do believe that translation being female-dominated is caused (among other things of course) by sexism. 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.
Plus, translators are mostly independant workers and that makes it tricky. There's no superior or colleague to discriminate you when you work alone. If really you think there needs to be more men in translation, blaming women is not the way to change that.
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