Tuesday, 5 November 2013
Girls will be boys...
I take my life in my hands by tackling this subject, what with the proliferation of Feminazis of late, but some things need to be said. So there. Vince Cable has publicly declared that the UK economy is hampered by a lack of female engineers. HAMPERED? Really, Vince? Or is that just bollocks? The socialists that like to call themselves Labour, or Libdem… or Conservative, these days, are so obsessed with equality they will presumably, every single one of them, have nodded sagely at that proclamation and pronounced it to be good without question.
Good? Are we talking about female engineering here, or social engineering? At what point did the notion of aptitude and ability leave the selection process altogether? On the Daily Politics yesterday they blathered on about sexism in politics and Labour's Fiona McTaggart proudly declared that she had been selected entirely on merit… from an all-women shortlist. She said this without a hint of irony.
Now I don’t intend to be patronising here, although I really don’t give a shit if you think I am being, but there are some things which women, generally, are really not interested in doing. And men, vice versa. And just because you might be a brilliant woman in a male-dominated field – bully for you – it simply does not follow that positive discrimination must be applied to make you less of an exception. Revel in beating the odds; be a huge fish in a tiny pond.
Now I know it’s terribly non-PC to even hint at this but I have discovered in my increasingly lengthy and weary life that men and women are fundamentally different. So that I can always tell which is which I have to constantly remind myself that the women are the ones with tits, sometimes every seven seconds, if some entirely invented factoids are to be believed. For every shocked response at the lazy association of tits with women, I bet there isn’t a single bloke who cares one jot about being labelled as sex-obsessed. We were probably too busy getting on with the job.
But let’s get back to the point. It all depends on what you mean by ‘engineering’. It’s no accident that boys were traditionally gifted train sets, given that the modern etymology of the term derives from our industrial revolution. ‘Engineer’ summons up grease, brute force, fire, furnace and steam. To most people yet, engineering is down and dirty, hands-on, boy stuff; grazed knuckles, sweaty cracks and blackened faces. But engineering is an all-encompassing term and it’s within that understanding that Vince’s ejaculation can be understood, if not entirely agreed with.
Much engineering is these days done at a desk, there being a very different set of skills needed to design a structure or a process than to to actually build it. Using a computer and writing software is very different from being the person who operates the machinery run by that software. There is a world of difference between being an architect – a hybrid of art and conceptual engineering - and a structural engineer working on site to turn ideas into reality. There is a yawning chasm between a transport designer and a road builder; a car designer and a mechanic. And one side of these complementary roles - the dirty side - tends to attract far fewer women.
If we took the equality agenda at face value we would end up with one of two things happening. Either a big chunk of fifty per cent of the workforce engaged in engineering across the board would be less than competent and extremely unhappy in their work. Or else, to achieve that fiction of balance, practically ALL of the designers and consultants would have to be women, meaning that all of the hands on roles would have to be taken by men, with all the resulting strife that would cause.
By all means give women every possible opportunity to do whatever they wish and whatever they prove to be suited for – I’ve known some supremely talented women in all sorts of technical fields, from the desk to the dirty – but for pity’s sake let’s not pretend the sexes are the same; they’re just not. Heaven help us the day some bloody Eurotwat decides we need fifty per cent men in hair and nails, midwifery, childcare, nursery teaching, aromatherapy… we would run a fecking mile.
Yes dear. Very nice...
So let’s just be all grown up about this, eh? And accept that while there are roles for women in engineering and that women can be just as good as men, in reality that role is more likely to still be in the canteen. What do I say to the strident feminists that demand a place in this, one of the last bastion of a man's world? Two sugars please, love.