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Old 7th Jun 2017, 2:34 pm   #21
merlinmaxwell
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I (a male) was taught to solder (properly that time after, dad, the Pye apprentice school and the line supervisor had their goes) by "ladies on the line". They where quite scary for a 17 year old apprentice! I haven't lost my soldering skills in the passing 40 years thanks to them. Thank you ladies.
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Old 7th Jun 2017, 2:34 pm   #22
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Who is Jules?
Graham- I was trying to be a bit less formal to ATM (DERBY), who wants to known as Julie ( and Jules is a well known form of abbreviation).
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Old 7th Jun 2017, 4:50 pm   #23
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Anyway - the topic seems to be about 'gender' ......so:

Check-out that classic photo of the Ladies assembling the legendary Philco 444's down in Greenford! This wasn't wartime - but there isn't a bloke in sight!! To my mind these ladies weren't 'factory workers' .... they were skilled technicians .... applying deft fingers and total concentration to intricate assembly operations involving expensive components.
Actually, that's not quite the full picture. Wiring up chassis was labour-intensive and could be de-skilled by sub dividing it, so an operative could be trained to say wire up half a dozen components then pass the chassis down the line. Women were employed on the lines because they were cheap labour, and as far as the women were concerned back then, they didn't generally expect to earn as much as men because that was in the era when men were considered to be the 'head of the household' and the 'breadwinner'.

On page 175 of 'Setmakers' there's a picture of a KB factory showing both men and women working alongside each other, and the caption states: 'Untypically for a radio factory of the period, men and women were working on the same task'.

In radio factories in the 30s and beyond, there were whole areas of factories where only men worked - often in white coats rather than overalls. Men were employed almost exclusively on R&D, quality control, supervision and management, in the drawing office, in the machine shop, toolmakers, electroplating, cabinet making, spraying and so on. In an era where health and safety at work was derided, (as it is by some to this day who denigrate it by using terms such as 'elf & safety'), the more hazardous ('macho') jobs such as electroplating and heavy lifting were done by men. BVWS members will know from the splendid DVDs of radio and valve factories and power generation that the division of roles between men and women is very evident.

That's the way it was, and that's how everyone - male and female - expected it to be. It had little to do with the innate ability of men or women's to perform most tasks, as indeed they could and had amply demonstrated it in WW1 munition factories and the like. It had everything to do with the socials norms of the day. It's not for nothing that terms such as 'draughtsman, foreman, storeman, salesman, watchman (or seamstress' etc) exist, even to this day. I had an aunt who worked at Marconi at Writtle in the war years, wiring complex instrument panels for the war effort. Her job tittle was 'wireman' which to her and others, didn't seem in any way odd or inappropriate.

As to women today in engineering (or not), I guess most people will know of Steph McGovern, business correspondent on BBC TV, (who has retained her ''Geordie accent, and why not, but gets hate mail for it, telling her to "get back to her council estate where she belongs"). Not so many may know of her engineering background. In 1998 at the start of her sixth form studies she won an Arkwright Engineering Scholarship for her potential to be a future leader in the engineering industry. From 1998–2000, in the sixth form, she studied Maths, Physics, Design Technology and Business Studies. At the age of 19 she was awarded 'Young Engineer for Britain', after saving Black & Decker £150,000 a year by improving production techniques used for the 'Leaf Hog' product.

But she's a TV presenter as her chosen career - not an engineer.
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Old 7th Jun 2017, 5:02 pm   #24
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Women do have greater manual dexterity than men, generally speaking - that's just a physical thing, not a social convention. They have always been used on precision assembly lines, and still are in China where a lot of manual assembly still takes place. There's also a belief that the female ability to multitask makes it easier for women to switch off mentally when performing boring repetitive tasks, chatting away to co-workers and so on, while men are unable to defocus in this way.
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Old 7th Jun 2017, 5:49 pm   #25
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Multi-tasking .... including lip reading in the Northern Mills of yore! I have worked with some great female engineering project managers too .... ladies with innate organisational abilities. There was one [ex Erickson] who I worked with on T5 Heathrow .... a MIT graduate with more patents after her name than I have underpants.
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Old 7th Jun 2017, 9:34 pm   #26
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Women do have greater manual dexterity than men, generally speaking - that's just a physical thing, not a social convention.
NASA chose to have women make the memories for the computers on the Apollo spacecraft. These were the ancient kind (and I cannot remember their technical name) where you have a mutitude of wires crossing at right angles with ferrite beads around them. MIT did the design but the sub-assemblies went out to industry and someone found a textile company which did intricate weaving, with a largely female workforce, and offered them a new line of business. Apparently, once fully wired up, any errors were horrendously difficult to re-work.

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Old 8th Jun 2017, 1:14 am   #27
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Over the course of my career there have always been one or two female technicians around. We had two or three on our apprenticeship course. I don't see any reason why this trade should be exclusively for men. I find it refreshing when women come along and get interested in the hobby.
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Old 8th Jun 2017, 10:32 am   #28
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Then there were the unsung [and initially segregated] NASA orbital navigation mathematicians and weight/propulsion engineers ..... a fantastic team of amazingly talented black ladies. I think that they've just made a film about them. Then of course there was the brilliant Alan Turin ..............
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Old 8th Jun 2017, 11:06 am   #29
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The film about three black female mathematicians (known as 'computers' back then), is called 'Hidden Figures'. An excellent film, which might be termed a 'docu-drama', which was as much about prejudice against black people as it was about gender. Like all films, for dramatic effect, it's embellished by some events which didn't actually happen, but is non the worse for that.

Of the three women, Katherine Johnson is still alive, aged 98, Dorothy Vaughan also lived to 98 but died in 2008. Mary Jackson lived to 83, and died in 2005.

https://thinkprogress.org/hidden-fig...g-db9ed029d5bb

As to talented female engineers and scientists, perhaps the most unlikely was Hedy Lamarr, the Austrian/American film star who we all owe a debt of gratitude to – leastways if we use Bluetooth devices!

At the beginning of World War II, Lamarr and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes, which used 'spread spectrum' and 'frequency hopping' technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers. Although the US Navy didn't adopt the technology until the 1960s, (as they weren’t receptive to ideas and inventions that came outside of the Military), the principles of their work are now incorporated into modern Wi-Fi, CDMA, and Bluetooth technology, and this work led to their induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Had the US Navy have adopted the technology when they entered the war, it's anyone's guess how many ships and lives could have been saved.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr
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Old 8th Jun 2017, 12:18 pm   #30
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Ada Lovelace.

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Old 8th Jun 2017, 6:16 pm   #31
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What are arguably the most authoritative articles about Hedy Lamarr and George Antheil's invention of spread spectrum communications are refs 30 and 31 of the Wiki article. They are papers published in the IEEE Transactions on Communications, and are not available for free download. We used to have the IEEE journals circulated at work, which is how I came across them. The author of one of the papers (Robert Price I think) had not only interviewed Hedy, but had got permission to inspect the confidential prosecution file of the patent application, which was still held by the Patent Attorneys that had drafted it.

Despite what is sometimes stated or inferred, the US authorities made no use of the patent, and had had to reinvent the spread spectrum wheel from scratch. Because the patent was not made the subject of a secrecy order, it was published in the normal way, and copies of it would have been sent to the patent libraries of the world's major industrial nations under the document exchange scheme that was then in place. Despite being publicly available, it languished in total obscurity until spread spectrum technology was declassified circa 1980. The US Patent Office then allocated a term for that technology in their patent classification scheme. This was used by patentees whose inventions had been declassified to find any other declassified patents covering similar matter. If there were, then they would need to have their own patents reissued with amended claims to avoid conflict. The existence of Hedy's patent, which by then had long since expired, came as a shock to everyone. During the Cold War era, both the US and the Soviet military authorities had conducted extensive documentary searches, including published patents, for anything to do with spread spectrum technology, and despite the patent having been publicly available in patent libraries throughout the world, no-one had picked it up. This is all the more surprising, given that spread spectrum technology was so highly classified at the time that a major panic ensued when a science fiction story appeared in which a race of aliens had devised a way of making matched pairs of crystals that generated identical random noise, for use in long distance communications: at that time an actual, and ultimately impractical, system was under development that used pairs of optical "noise wheels" for synchronising a transmitter and receiver.

A possible factor in its obscurity was that, when drafting the patent, the Attorney had replaced the inventors' original references to "jamming" by "block control". The hardware described in the patent (synchronised player piano mechanisms) would not have helped, nor would the notoriety of both of the inventors. George Antheil was an avant garde composer who makes modern composers like Birtwhistle seem middle of the road (Google "Ballet Mechanique"), while Hedy was then still known as "The Ecstasy Lady" because as a teenager she had appeared in the film "Ecstacy" which had a scene showing her naked, in the woods, having a simulated orgasm. The fact that George had had relevant experience in sychronising a large number of player pianos in "Ballet Mechanique", and Hedy had seen numerous films of unsuccessful trials of guided weapons when accompanying her then husband (the owner of one of Austria's major weapons manufacturers) would have gone right over their heads. You can imagine someone assessing the invention saying "So that glamour actress and nutty composer want to control my torpedoes with a piano!!!".

To revert to the original topic, in my second year at Cardiff in 1967, we had two new female engineering students, both doing Civil Engineering. Our prof said that this had doubled the total number of female engineering students that the university had had since it had been set up a century previously! The only female electrical engineer I came across in the period up to the mid-1970's was an engineer in the Submarine Cables Lab at STC, North Woolwich, where I had a vacation training placement. In my time with Plessey in the early 1970's in the professional staff we had one female draftsman and a female mathematician. Things are very different now, and a number of the girls my wife taught went on to become successful engineers.

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Old 8th Jun 2017, 10:55 pm   #32
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...And we thought Hedy Lamarr and the Torpedoes was a punk band!

You clearly know your stuff on this one.
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Old 9th Jun 2017, 12:28 am   #33
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I have always felt that men and women are more similar to each other than we care to admit.

Some people are disturbed by the presence of someone who is not obviously identifiable as male or female, almost as though they are unsure how much respect to treat them with.

If you take three groups of 50 men and 50 women each, and tell group A that they are about to take a test in which men usually perform better than women, and launch into a (bogus but authoritative-sounding) explantion why; tell group B that women usually outperform men in the test, and "why"; and don't mention any connection with gender at all in the group C pre-test briefing, then subject them all to the sa,e examination which includes an even mix of especially easy and especially hard elements, the test results for groups A and B will tend to show that their pre-test talks have become a self-fulfilling prophecy, whereas the men and women of group C will perform about equally.

In a variation on an older test which appeared to show that boys and girls had an innate preference for different toys, adults left temporarily in charge of a child that they believed was a boy but was actually a girl dressed in boys' clothes, reported that "he" seemed to prefer toy cars and guns to dolls and ponies, and vice-versa for a boy dressed in pink whom they thought was a girl. It seems that adults can unconsciously project sexism onto children in their care, limiting their options for self-development.

Final, random observation: I once overheard a group of women discussing why men prefer to urinate against a vertical surface. The general consensus seemed to be that it was something to do with a feeling of power associated with aiming a weapon. None of them mentioned fluid dynamics --how surface tension causes the stream to follow the surface down, avoiding splashback -- at all.
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Old 9th Jun 2017, 12:57 am   #34
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Most of what I know came from the IEEE articles, which seem to be ignored because you have to pay to read them, unless you have access to a library that holds them. I got the library at my GEC site to make me copies, which are boxed up in the shed at present. The Jan 1983 IEEE issue had another article, I think by Sholtz, that is not referenced by Wiki.

Mention was made in them of the US department that considered potentially useful inventions. While they were certainly aware of Hedy's invention at the time (its existence was briefly mentioned in the press, AFAIR the contemporary serviceman's magazine "Stars and Stripes") and rejected it, they did apparently spend some thousands of dollars on a failed project to make Frisbees of plastic explosives as an alternative to hand grenades! While Hedy came up with the general concept, she lacked the technical knowledge to reduce it to practice as required by US patent law. George's expertise was essential in devising an apparatus that would indeed have worked using 1940's technology had anyone tried, and so should (but often is not) be rightly identified as a joint inventor.
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Old 12th Jun 2017, 7:05 pm   #35
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It makes me laugh at why this discussion is even happening. History has shown that women can do most anything, as can men. It only requires the need and determination, and help from society.

The gender spectrum is also broad, with most people not being at either end, somewhere inbetween and often varying in respect to internal and external influences.

They just conform to pressures from society and upbringing. If those pressures push toward a deviation from the norm (eg in wartime) then it happens, as they then conform to a new norm of society.

Some specific women have had the drive and interest to go their own way. They show what is possible.
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