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PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2005 11:34 pm 
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Location: San Diego, CA
From the two clubs that I am in, I can tell you that they are not 50-50. And in addition, several of the women have told me that they only come to the club meetings, and have trees, because it is their husband's hobby. They would not have bonsai were it not for their husbands. So just counting heads in clubs isn't enough, you would have to consider whether the individual is active on their own initiative.
The internet forums are not so easily dismissed...they are as valid as any other participation. Women are not on the forums in anything like the numbers that men are. Looking through the membership on BonsaiTALK, when a gender is given or can be reasonably guessed, it is mostly male.
Looking through the books and magazines, most are written by men. Most of the articles are by men, about men. Most of the Letters to the Editor are written by men. And most of the invited artists at seminars are men. It looks like a ratio of about four to one.
As to the generalization about men being more contentious than women in these open public discussions, it would be hard not to be general. A head to head comparison would be difficult. But I know of two forums that were entirely women, which shut down because two or three argued all the time. The other women just stopped going there, stopped posting, and when asked "why" they said that they didn't like the discord and stress that it brought. Fewer women than men tend to be banned, as well.

Doesn't really matter, though, in the end. The Bonsai world is fine just the way it is.....
Joanie


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 3:30 am 
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Hi Joanie,
You wrote:
Quote:
From the two clubs that I am in, I can tell you that they are not 50-50. And in addition, several of the women have told me that they only come to the club meetings, and have trees, because it is their husband's hobby. They would not have bonsai were it not for their husbands.

Great! Now we are getting a more varied picture, and different experiences. That also explains your interest in attracting more women to bonsai. I wish you every success.
We have a few couples among the members of the clubs I belong to, but I don't think that there is one where both partners grow bonsai. Generally, the problems are rather of the "Oh no, not another tree!" variety.
Quote:
The internet forums are not so easily dismissed...they are as valid as any other participation. Women are not on the forums in anything like the numbers that men are.

Indeed, and that is what bothers me. I'd like to know why and what can be done about it. Two women I asked said that they haven't got the patience. One said she couldn't be bothered. Several said that, after sitting at the computer all day at work, they certainly didn't want more of it in their free time. One implied that she felt intimidated by the level of the discussions. That's as far as I got.
Note that on the German and French bonsai forums, you get more female participation than on the Anglo-Saxon ones, though it is still far from a 50-50 ratio.
Quote:
Looking through the books and magazines, most are written by men. Most of the articles are by men, about men. Most of the Letters to the Editor are written by men. And most of the invited artists at seminars are men. It looks like a ratio of about four to one.

That's a conservative estimate, I think. Of course, you are entirely right.
However, that goes further than attracting women to bonsai.
Quote:
But I know of two forums that were entirely women, which shut down because two or three argued all the time.

Shudder! Heaven preserve us from a women-only bonsai forum.
Quote:
Doesn't really matter, though, in the end. The Bonsai world is fine just the way it is.....

Is it?
Please keep posting. It's so good to have someone showing things in a way that's different from what was written before.
Lisa


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 12:19 pm 
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Location: San Diego, CA
Thank you, Lisa! I was a little worried that my perception of the ratios was skewed, hence the research. And I did a little more last night, which brought to light a very interesting twist.
If you look at the club officers rosters, many if not most of the officers are women. Yes, try it yourself. I did about ten last night before getting too tired. Especially in the US. The women are officers, but still mostly men participating, showing, and demonstrating. Why? Uh-oh, here goes another gender assumption thrown into the mix. But this one is also true in a very general sense.....
Women are more social, more willing to do volunteer work, and much of the organizing falls to them.
They may or may not have trees at all, but they are Treasurers and Secretaries and Historians, they publish the newsletters and are quite often Presidents. Two of the women whom I have talked to, who are officers, are only there because they participate with their husbands.
Now, go look at the African Violet Societies. Almost exclusively women, both on the rosters, as the demonstrators, and as the forum participants. They have "Afternoon Tea" and "Christmas Party, Pot Luck and Leaf Exchange" days. Meetings are held at various homes. Just reading their club sites gives a far different feel than the bonsai sites. The same is seen with ikebana, where women again dominate.
My experience with all-women forums comes from my hobby and livelihood, selling model horses. (Think doll collecting, or model trains) That hobby is 98% women. We can all name the dozen or so active men in the hobby. (One fellow once told me that going to a model horse convention for a single man was like "shooting fish in a barrel". You can see why he participated!) I have stopped participating on the forums because the people there don't really want information. They want to be praised, coddled, and told how wonderful they are. Much as in the bonsai world, with people at the lower levels. However, in the model horse hobby, being blunt is the abberation, not the norm. Generally, critique is given by silence. No one is willing to speak up and say what is wrong. Rather than chew my tongue raw from frustration, it was easier not to read the posts. But the forum is very, very active. Very social. Very interconnected, with factions and loyalties, just as in the bonsai world. Women on those forums have plenty of time and plenty of energy to participate, believe me!! Sometimes you wonder if they do anything else at all.......
And finally, yes, I think the bonsai world is just fine. It is refreshing that the men are so blunt. If women aren't interested in participating, it is their loss. I really don't think that there is a "glass ceiling" in any sense in the bonsai scene, so what is there to change? My suggestion about more indoor/tropical trees was, as a solution, rather limp and watery. It is making a space that doesn't exist just to attract people who wouldn't otherwise be interested. Where does that go? Much better to concentrate on those people who are avid, obsessed, dedicated.....
Joanie


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 12:37 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA
Joanie Berkwitz wrote:
Thank you, Lisa! I was a little worried that my perception of the ratios was skewed, hence the research. And I did a little more last night, which brought to light a very interesting twist.
If you look at the club officers rosters, many if not most of the officers are women. Yes, try it yourself. I did about ten last night before getting too tired. Especially in the US. The women are officers, but still mostly men participating, showing, and demonstrating

Fascinating observation, Joanie! This is certainly true of the clubs that I am familar with.
My only point of possible disagreement is over whether the bonsai world is fine as is. I agree that it is fine if the gender ratio of participation truly reflects the gender ratio of interest. But if women are interested, coming to meetings or internet forums, and then leaving because they don't feel like dealing with yet another "boy's club" where they are made feel slightly out of place and where their opinions and contributions are undervalued --- that is a problem.
Best regards,
Carl


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:12 pm 
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That's a reasonable thought, Carl. But as a woman who has fairly recently joined two clubs, and been interacting with them quite a bit, I really do think that bonsai is just a more masculine hobby. If women wanted to do it, they would, there is no gender prejudice involved. In fact, just the opposite. Women are encouraged to participate when they are in the clubs, and are looked after quite nicely, at least in our two. I can't tell you how many welcomes, how many personal introductions we received, when my friend and I joined.
There just seem to be two factors at work, at least in my opinion, and here we are on shakier ground. With the emphasis on larger, more elaborate trees (Walter's picture with the caption "Now you see how big the tree is" comes to mind) and the emphasis on outdoor trees, I really do suspect that it is an outdoor/rugged/masculine hobby as it is currently judged and shown. The little trees, the delicate trees, are not the ones getting attention and consideration. Someone who is committed to bonsai needs to go outside a LOT, not just in spring and summer like rose growers or flower growers. They need to be able to repot and prune, which is more difficult to do with gardening gloves. They need to sift soil and collect moss. It isn't the nurturing or pruning (think of a rose bush after pruning) or the heavy work. It is the perception that bonsai can't be kept indoors, and the good trees tend to be larger trees. Look at the emphasis on pines and junipers. Then look at the bonsaiTALK contest and see what the women entered. This is, however, just an opinion. How do you find out why someone isn't attracted to something?
Joanie


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2005 2:35 pm 
Now that spring is over and a sort of summer has arrived I have had time to explore this issue a little further. Of the 32 people I know who enjoy bonsai 11 are women. I created a simple survey and sent it to all the women on my list. Here are the results:
1. What level of knowledge do you feel you have?
Beginner_1_ Basic_2_ Intermediate_8_ Master__
2. How would you describe you involvement?
Very involved daily, and loving all aspects_7_
Somewhat involved, if the right tree comes along_1_
Involved, but not looking to increase my collection_2_
Somewhat disinterested, I keep them alive, but?_1_
Bored with bonsai, please come take my trees__
3. How many trees are you currently working on?
How many are in basic training? 1-10__ 11-25_7_ 26-50_4_ 51-100__ 100+__
How many are in intermediate stages? 1-10_6_ 11-25_1_ 26-50_4_ 51-100__ 100+__
How many are ?finished?? 1-10_11_ 11-25__ 26-50__ 51-100__ 100+__
4. Do you belong to a bonsai club? Yes_2_ No_9_
If NO, why?
?Meetings too far away or at inconvenient times? was the reply from 3 women.
?Did not feel comfortable at the meeting? was the reply from 2 women.
?I was not taken seriously or put down? was the reply from 2 women.
?I went to partake, not serve as a gofer? was the reply from 1 woman.
?If another guy tried to hit on me, I would have used me knob-cutters on him? was the reply from 1 woman.
5. Do you frequent an online forum? Yes_1_ No_10_
If Yes which ones?
If No why not?
?I do not have time, my trees get my attention? was the reply from 5 women.
?Who wants to read online arguments of self-appointed ?masters?
was the reply from 3 women.
?I have not found an ?Online Master? who I would want to learn from?
was the reply from 2 woman.
6. Do you think the bonsai community is open and accessible to women? Yes_4_ No_7_
If No, why not? ?I do not think I am taken seriously in bonsai? was the reply from 5 women.
?It appears to be the last bastion of the ?Good-Old-Boys-Club?
was the reply from 1 woman.
?It took a long time to find a club where I was accepted as an equal?
was the reply from 1 woman

While the survey is antidotal in nature and of a very small sampling, the response rate was 100%. I have condensed the comments as most of the women gave very lengthy ones. I e-mailed the condensations for their approval before posting here. The women are mostly in the United States (8) with the others in England (1), France (1) and Argentina (1). England and France supplied the 2 yes answers to question 4, and 2 of the Yes responses to question 6 (the other 2 yes answers to question 6 were from the United States). The 1 yes on question 5 was from Argentina. The comments alluding to sexual harassment came from women in the United States.
The raw data is a bit light, so I plan to send it out to some of the women I know from the online forums, as I believe that could give a broader image.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2005 2:41 pm 
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James,
Small and non-random as the sample may be, the responses certainly offer some degree of support to that which I've been concerned about: that bonsai clubs / forums are not yet welcoming environments in which women feel comfortable and are taken seriously.
I might conjecture that smaller, more advanced study groups avoid most of these problems. Perhaps not all study groups, all of the time - but I would guess that many study groups, most of the time, provide a better environment free of much what turns women away from club meetings and internet forums. Thoughts?
Best regards,
Carl


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2005 3:22 pm 
Carl,
I need to do more work with the replys I already have, I do see a pattern that the women who feel most knowledgable or have been in bonsai the longest are the one who feel they are not taken seriously. While the beginner and basic women were happier with clubs. The results were only gathered 2 weeks ago and I have not had time to postulate any theories. You know me, I will post as soon as I have had time to give it the thought it deserves.
Always,
Jim


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2005 7:11 pm 
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Fascinating! Now we're getting somewhere.
Before I answer the posts, a little bit of background. I live in Canberra, Australia and am a member of the 2 very active bonsai clubs there, which have a combined membership of around 220.
Quote:
If you look at the club officers rosters, many if not most of the officers are women
.
Joanie, here it varies. This year, most are women, last year they were most men.
Quote:
Women are more social, more willing to do volunteer work, and much of the organizing falls to them.

Here, it depends. If the men are retired, they take on a lot of the volunteer work. At the moment, they do most of it. So, maybe it's not just a gender question, but an age one.
Quote:
With the emphasis on larger, more elaborate trees (...) and the emphasis on outdoor trees, I really do suspect that it is an outdoor/rugged/masculine hobby as it is currently judged and shown. The little trees, the delicate trees, are not the ones getting attention and consideration.

Terribly sorry to be at variance again, but though it is an outdoor hobby, it is only as rugged as one makes it, and (here at least) not predominantly masculine. This may be due to our climate, in part. We have hot, dry summers, and winters with night frost, sometimes pretty severe, but it never freezes in day time. Springs and autumns are delightful. All of that makes bonsai fairly easy to grow, and invites outdoor activities. The women go collecting with the guys, and where something is too hard, they get help. So, the climate factor is an influence too.
On the Internet, there is indeed quite an avalanche of "macho" trees, but I don't think that necessarily reflects the off-line situation. In our clubs, though there are a lot of collected bonsai, there's a pretty good balance of all sizes. One has to remember that only a very small proportion of bonsai growers frequents the forums.
--------------
James, many thanks for the trouble you took, and showing us the results.
My post is getting terriby long, so I won't reply in detail, but just comment on Carl's summary:
Quote:
Small and non-random as the sample may be, the responses certainly offer some degree of support to that which I've been concerned about: that bonsai clubs / forums are not yet welcoming environments in which women feel comfortable and are taken seriously.

Sigh. Here I go again! We have none of that trouble, or we wouldn't have a 50-50 men/women membership. One's standing in a club depends entirely on one's contribution and there's no sexism. Sexual harrassment? No way!
It may seem that I am painting an ideal situation in an ideal world, but what I wrote is no more than the simple truth. Of course, things aren't always rosy. Sometimes there's bickering, or "politics", as in any club. But these are not gender related. Mind you, I can't answer for other clubs in this country.
All in all, I'm not a very good person to talk to, about women in bonsai, off-line. I'd just like to see more of them on the Internet.
Lisa


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 10:00 am 
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Lisa, I appreciate your experiences, and I dare to say that our cultures are fairly different, although they may at first glance seem the same. Here in California, we are probably most similar to Australia. Weather is good, but also the gender gap is not as pronounced. Men who are too stridently macho and hit on women wouldn't be tolerated. In other parts of the country, particularly the south, women are treated differently. James, where in the US do your women live? (As another aside, someone's view of being "hit on" can vary based on their own psychology. Many women find it flattering, and most know how to handle it gracefully and with humor.)
But may I point out that Jame's survey was the result of asking women who are already IN bonsai. I thought that the question was about women who were NOT in bonsai at all.....? Why do more men than women even attempt bonsai at all?
Thirty percent of the people he knows in bonsai are women. James, if they don't participate in clubs or online, how do you know them? Where ARE they participating? Who are they learning from? To what are they comparing their trees?
And, see, the "don't have time" thing just falls on its face...go check the other, more feminine gardening forums. Try the African Violets. Lots of women, lots of time. Strange, very strange.
I'm totally willing to let go of the "outdoor" theory, it was shaky at best. It was an attempt to find the ways that other gardening activities had commonalities in which women felt comfortable, and the ways in which bonsai varied.
So maybe it does come down to this....men, particularly US men, still don't take women seriously? They are still a little....patronizing...? And the women who end up in bonsai either are self-confident enough to participate anyway (Lisa, Michelle, moi, etc.) or they just go do bonsai on their own....
(Not touching the "masters" thing at all....ahem....now who would they mean??)
Joanie


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 11:29 am 
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Joanie Berkwitz wrote:
They are still a little....patronizing...?

What's wrong with that?
I would love to be matronized by women in my club!
(now you are going to say:"this is exactly what I am talking about")


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 12:22 pm 
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Location: San Diego, CA
(GRIN) You chauvanist pig you. And was it you that commented on women smelling more sweetly? Buddy, that's just what YOU think. Men would smell pretty good too if everything they used on themselves had a fragrance besides "Old Spice" or "Sports Xtreme"... (mind you, it would be a real bonus to have an aftershave called "Newly Cut Wood". Home Depot is missing the boat, they should sell a line of men's scents. I much prefer a man that smells of pine sap or tool oil. How about "Master Scent" that smells of tool oil and slightly heated metal?)
Maybe we're getting to the bottom of this. The women are too sensitive about being patronized, and the men don't smell right, either.
Joanie


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 12:29 pm 
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Joanie,
Thanks for the first compliment, but I can't take the credit for the rest of your response.
I was not the one commenting on scents.
My father used to make fun of me about my perfume collection when I was younger. So, I may be the wrong model for those smelly men you are talking about (grin).
Attila


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 12:30 pm 
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Please note, too, that of the (six? a couple names I don't know the gender on) women on this forum, only one is from outside the US (Lisa from Australia)
If you do the survey again, could you ask what KIND of trees and what SIZE of trees the women have/prefer?
And if they have tried the forums, or are on any other forums for other things?
Joanie


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 12:41 pm 
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No Joanie, that was me who said women smell better. I don't think I said "sweet" per se, but better nonetheless.
Now as far as "SWEET" personalities, well............. me with a big grin inserted HERE.
I think Halston is a good cologne for bonsai dudes. It smells a little "woody". I like to change to it from my standard Perry Ellis "work" cologne, when I'm feeling more outdoorsy and ready to do some serious carving.
What's with this "in California, men hitting on women won't be tolerated thingy"? In the South (where I am) I hope you don't mean we hit on women in the literal sense. I don't, at least. My wife is too good a shot to try and get away with something that stupid! Now up to getting married, I would "hit" on women in the sense of trying to get a date, but if that isn't the way it is in California, I guess that explains some questions I have had for quite some time!!!
Wow, information abounds here!!!
In good fun,
John


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