[Adv] What do you do when your hobby is absurdly male dominated?

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[Adv] What do you do when your hobby is absurdly male dominated?  Empty [Adv] What do you do when your hobby is absurdly male dominated?

Post by Guest on Sun Oct 05, 2014 7:43 am

So, I'd rank as an audiophile. I like music and I like making it sounds as good to me as possible. Admittedly, I'm a little bit of an outsider to the community thanks to subscribing to the enjoyment model of audiophilia instead of 'higher prices tags = better sounds experience' audiophila but I'm some form of one all the same.

Anyway, the audiophile community is predominantly male. And by predominantly male, I mean I had to look up women audiophiles to find an article about one woman in particularly who is an audiophile and a plethora of forum posts, articles and the like written by men asking where the female audiophiles are. I've been closely associated with the community for a long time before joining it's ranks thanks to friends being part of it or know sound engineers, producers and musicians (all male save for the last; I know loads of female musicians) but over the course of the year, I've gotten into it myself.

I went to the Australian Sound and AV Show last year as an exhibitor and hope to go again this year purely as a visitor and something that I noticed last year was there was so few women. The only women I saw were at booths or sound rooms (it's held in a hotel where makers set up turntables, sound systems etc to let people listen to their wares in specific rooms to keep the sound sealed off from everyone and everything else) and they weren't 'eye candy' or anything like 'booth babes'. They just worked in the marketing departments at these companies from what I could gather. Although, given the dearth of women among the consumers, I wouldn't be surprised if the women at the booths were there to please the clientele. There was one or two women with partners / boyfriends, but they weren't exactly the one of the pair running from room to room like a kid in a candy store.

Basically, there aren't many audiophile women and I don't blame them for staying away. It's a hobby I'd love to share with an eventual partner, but it's a bit of a hard sell in many ways to even guys. Like gamers, IT nerds etc. it has a very bad reputation. We're all rich white men spending way too much money, pretentious collectors and perfectionists and opinionated arseholes apparently. Sadly, a lot of this has truth to it; I know a lot of people that fall into the first two categories at least. I saw plenty of the third at the AV show.

I know DNL's written about introducing nerdy things to people but, I'll be honest, his method in doing so screams of being on the defensive from the get go and that what you are into is more than what it really is. His example about anime and manga is the stand out in that regard, I feel, as someone who consumes it.

Has anyone tackled this issue of a gender gap being in the way of introducing a hobby and been successful? Introducing people to audiophile related things definitely requires trying things out, which can be hard to do with nasty generalisations hanging above it. If you want to know how good a DAC makes your music sounds, you need to try them out. If you want to see if you like vinyl better than digital/CD, you need to try it. I find most people, men and women, don't care enough about the music they listen to want to do a lot of this. That's totally cool of course, but it makes it harder to make look appealing to people. I get a lot of 'but it's just music' and 'I just listen to it', which is fair but disappointing to say the least. Razz

Any hobby being used as an example of what to do / what not to do would be good. I can probably tailor something to work better with music. Any other 'introducing interests' insight would be very, very welcome!

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Post by Enail on Sun Oct 05, 2014 12:29 pm

One thing I'd recommend is deconstructing the label - focus less on "I'm an audiophile" and more about what that means to you, the specific things that you're enthusiastic about.  Something like "I love music and discovering what what mediums and technologies make it sound the best," (or whatever, I don't know much about audiophile-dom!) is probably a lot more accessible to people who don't know anything about it and gives them something to grab onto conversationally, and shows people who have bad experiences or negative assumptions about audiophiles that what's important to you is the joys of the hobby and connecting with people based on that rather than being invested in aligning with the dominant values/archetypes of the community, especially when the community's reputation is not so great.

I'd also suggest, if someone expresses an interest and you'd like to introduce her to it in greater depth, don't go in with the mindset of "I'm going to teach you so much stuff and show you how much better things can be" so much as "This is something I'm really enthusiastic about, I'm going to show you what makes me love it."  Avoid that teaching vibe, which can easily shade into the opinionated-and-pretentious vibe that many male-dominated hobbies have a reputation for.

You can also focus on connecting it with other hobbies and interests which are more woman-friendly. An obvious one is music-making - even if their focus is different, musicians of all stripes are likely to care more about deeper exploration rather than "but it's just music." And they're more likely to have lots of opinions and enthusiasms of their own on the subject, which means it's easier to make it about sharing and learning from each other rather than just introducing and teaching them.
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Post by Suika on Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:05 pm

The level of involvement is going to be subjective as well, so what some people judge as being "very interested", someone like you might consider as being very "casual". That makes it so that they know enough that just showing them the superficial stuff won't be enough, but also that teaching them is either not recommended or even resisted. I myself have had experiences with entering some of the worst communities regarding certain interests though, so I can hardly say that I'm objective in any manner. School of hard knocks, if you will.
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Post by eselle28 on Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:23 pm

I don't have any experience with introducing someone to a female-dominated interest, but I do have some with introducing people to new hobbies that have less-than-appealing communities attached to them. These would be my general tips:

- Choose someone whose interests are at least in the same neighborhood. In this case, I'd say someone who's passionate about playing or listening to music and who's at least slightly interested in technology would be a good start.

- Keep the barriers to entry low. If you were introducing someone to gaming, you'd probably invite them over to play a single player game or one against you on your system. If you were introducing someone to manga, you'd probably select a few titles from your collection and lend them. For your hobby, I think you'd do best to invite the person you're exposing to your interest over to your place and let them listen to music on whatever equipment you have, and to avoid exposing them to pretentious collectors and opinionated assholes unless and until they've developed a genuine stake in pursuing the interest.

- Be reasonable and reciprocal. Introducing someone to your hobby successfully doesn't usually mean that the new person is exactly as passionate about it as you are and that the two of you never need to talk about anything else. A successful introduction is more likely to produce a moderate level of interest, or a mild one that allows your partner to appreciate why you enjoy something and share it with you, even if they wouldn't pursue the hobby if your relationship ended. Your attempts at introduction will also come across better if you're equally willing to learn about things that she likes - if you want her to occasionally set aside an afternoon for your interests, you should be willing to do the same for hers.
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Post by Guest on Sun Oct 05, 2014 8:07 pm

Enail wrote:One thing I'd recommend is deconstructing the label - focus less on "I'm an audiophile" and more about what that means to you, the specific things that you're enthusiastic about.  Something like "I love music and discovering what what mediums and technologies make it sound the best," (or whatever, I don't know much about audiophile-dom!) is probably a lot more accessible to people who don't know anything about it and gives them something to grab onto conversationally, and shows people who have bad experiences or negative assumptions about audiophiles that what's important to you is the joys of the hobby and connecting with people based on that rather than being invested in aligning with the dominant values/archetypes of the community, especially when the community's reputation is not so great.

I like the idea of deconstructing the label - it immediately loses some of the negative connotations when you lose the 'dirty word' and focus one what it means you. And, it's worth mentioning, in broad sense you're right about what it does mean.

Enail wrote:I'd also suggest, if someone expresses an interest and you'd like to introduce her to it in greater depth, don't go in with the mindset of "I'm going to teach you so much stuff and show you how much better things can be" so much as "This is something I'm really enthusiastic about, I'm going to show you what makes me love it."  Avoid that teaching vibe, which can easily shade into the opinionated-and-pretentious vibe that many male-dominated hobbies have a reputation for.

I tend to avoid falling into the teacher mindset pretty well because I certainly did used to be opinionated-and-pretentious about music when I was much younger. Now that I'm over that phase, I more or less talk about the hobby if asked and I've become to go-to guy for advice in many respects but I don't go lecturing people unless they actually ask for teacher. Razz

Enail wrote:You can also focus on connecting it with other hobbies and interests which are more woman-friendly. An obvious one is music-making - even if their focus is different, musicians of all stripes are likely to care more about deeper exploration rather than "but it's just music." And they're more likely to have lots of opinions and enthusiasms of their own on the subject, which means it's easier to make it about sharing and learning from each other rather than just introducing and teaching them.

Interestingly enough, most of the female musicians I know are Celtic folk artists who are less inclined to be totally into audiophile stuff than your typical musician. That said, it's not a sure thing that's the case and it's still a good point anyhow. I know enough about music-making to run with your example, that I can hold a conversation about it but I would also be in a learning position when talking to a musician or someone else with far more experience.

Suika wrote:The level of involvement is going to be subjective as well, so what some people judge as being "very interested", someone like you might consider as being very "casual". That makes it so that they know enough that just showing them the superficial stuff won't be enough, but also that teaching them is either not recommended or even resisted. I myself have had experiences with entering some of the worst communities regarding certain interests though, so I can hardly say that I'm objective in any manner. School of hard knocks, if you will.

This is good to remember too. I used to be very judgmental about the 'casual' vs 'invested' sides when it comes to music so unfortunately I know this all too well from the wrong side of things. But I guess I can use that to my advantage and know what to avoid saying and doing. I don't want to pressure people into learning things they don't like or what have you - I just want people to understand why I like it so much.

eselle28 wrote:I don't have any experience with introducing someone to a female-dominated interest, but I do have some with introducing people to new hobbies that have less-than-appealing communities attached to them. These would be my general tips:

- Choose someone whose interests are at least in the same neighborhood. In this case, I'd say someone who's passionate about playing or listening to music and who's at least slightly interested in technology would be a good start.

I know plenty of listeners so that's a start. I'll need to look into the tech side of things with people because the extent of that I see with most people is computers (which is another huge thing for me, but for very different reasons).

eselle28 wrote:- Keep the barriers to entry low. If you were introducing someone to gaming, you'd probably invite them over to play a single player game or one against you on your system. If you were introducing someone to manga, you'd probably select a few titles from your collection and lend them. For your hobby, I think you'd do best to invite the person you're exposing to your interest over to your place and let them listen to music on whatever equipment you have, and to avoid exposing them to pretentious collectors and opinionated assholes unless and until they've developed a genuine stake in pursuing the interest.

I've been trying to think of a good way to introduce people on a base level and maybe I was thinking too hard about it. Just listening to some music seems obvious but I only recently was able to acquire equipment for myself to use so I never thought of just inviting someone over. The most I could do was take them to a local vinyl / equipment store and recording studio that I know, which I felt was great for people who are already avid music listeners but not newbies per se. As much as trying out the music and equipment there is very much like scheduling an appointment and talking about it, it's still a store with the looming worry of how expensive everything is all around you.

eselle28 wrote:- Be reasonable and reciprocal. Introducing someone to your hobby successfully doesn't usually mean that the new person is exactly as passionate about it as you are and that the two of you never need to talk about anything else. A successful introduction is more likely to produce a moderate level of interest, or a mild one that allows your partner to appreciate why you enjoy something and share it with you, even if they wouldn't pursue the hobby if your relationship ended. Your attempts at introduction will also come across better if you're equally willing to learn about things that she likes - if you want her to occasionally set aside an afternoon for your interests, you should be willing to do the same for hers.

I'm pretty comfortable with this. As with most hobbies I enjoy, I only really want understanding of why I involve myself with it. Everything else is a bonus if I can manage it and I aim to capitalise on that bonus. When it comes to others hobbies and interest, well, like most people I find passion attractive. I love history as it is but I've met people so excited by it and learning about it that it made them 100x more attractive, interesting and awesome.

Thanks for the replies! I'm still game for more suggestions and such if anyone has any.

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Post by OtherRoooToo on Tue Oct 07, 2014 1:57 am

As a ladyperson with production experience – maybe listen if a fellow audio lady has something she might like to share with you?

I’m an amateur photographer too – as with anything, it sometimes feels like, requiring technical skill, it is also somewhat male-dominated in “vibe” … and so the issues remain very much the same. I do a lot of eavesdropping at AES, because I don’t like being talked over.

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Post by Guest on Tue Oct 07, 2014 10:11 pm

I'd gladly listen to what a fellow audio lady wanted to share. It's a good point in general and ties back to reciprocation - if you want to share your interests in others, it pays and is often really fun anyway, to share something of theirs.

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