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women engineers
8

women engineers

women engineers

(OP)
This never sounded right to me:

The company has many woman engineers.

I always felt one should say:

The company has many female engineers.

or:

The company has many engineers who are women.

So should it be - woman engineers or female engineers or engineers who are women?

By the way - this does not apply specifically to this example - I hear this gramatical structure in all sorts of different contexts.

RE: women engineers

How about fengineer or wengineer.

RE: women engineers

I've always heard "women engineers" or "female engineers".  Using "woman" doesn't make sense because you're talking about many, not one.

RE: women engineers

Why must there be a distinction?

RE: women engineers

2
Women is not an adjective; it's a plural noun.  Plural nouns should never be used as adjectives. There are times when singular nouns may be used as adjectives, or attributive nouns, so you could make a case for "woman engineers", but never "women engineers".  That being said, I would shy away from using an attributive noun when there is an adjective available, such as female.

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: women engineers

There is probably a marketing angle where the distinction is advantageous.  I think I'd find a different way of saying it, like "we have over 40 engineers, 25% of whom are women."  

"Gorgeous hair is the best revenge."  Ivana Trump

RE: women engineers

3
If I take the term "Mechanical Engineer" as someone responsible for doing "engineering" (whatever definition of that you want to use) on "mechanical things".  "Electrical Engineer" does engineering on electrical things.  Therefore "Woman Engineer" or "Female Engineer" would be someone who does engineering on individuals of the female gender of a species.  I don't think anyone really means that.

I've seen this garbage applied to other groups like "Black Engineer", "Native American Engineer", etc.  It is all crap.  I'm a Mechanical Engineer who happens to be a caucasian male.  I think that everything aver "Mechanical Engineer" is superfluous to the fact that I'm a Mechanical Engineer.

If an HR department says "30% of the engineering staff is female" there is meaningful communication (the Building Facilities Manager can make sure that there are adequate toilet facilities for example).  If they say "we have 30% female engineers" then they are talking nonsense (what do the engineers work on the other 70% of their time?).

David

RE: women engineers

Zdas,

I believe that "female engineer" may be more appropriate than "woman engineer", unless motherhood is considered. Female engineering could then include cloning female sheep. Obviously, one should teach the sheep to cook first.

RE: women engineers

David,

The fact that you are a Caucasian male may be exactly why you think the distinction is crap.  You've likely never been in anything but the vast majority.  I've been the only female engineer at three of the four companies where I've worked, and it makes all the difference to know coming in that there will be another or I'll be the one and only.

Linnea

RE: women engineers

English is my third (but most used now) language and I perfectly understand what is meant my "women engineers'.  

If "women engineers" is confusing, "female engineers" should be even more so as it does not specify female of which species! blllttt

It does not matter what one thinks it should be, what matters is what is generally accepted and if the message is clearly delivered. "Women engineers" does that.  Language and usage of words are always evolving.

Do a web search on 'women engineers' and see the hits you get. There even appears to be a Society of Women Engineers.

Back to doing useful things....


 

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: women engineers

Sita,

I've been in that situation most of my career.  I now work where the majority of the technical staff is female and there is a huge difference in corporate culture.  I can see a definite advantage when marketing to new grads or recruits who are women.  Personally, the distinction does not bother me unless used in a derogatory context.  It's the intention behind the words, not the words alone.

"Gorgeous hair is the best revenge."  Ivana Trump

RE: women engineers

Sita,
I would still think that the distinction was crap if someone said "Male Engineer".  When I phone an engineer, I really don't care what their race, gender, or religion is, I care if they know the answer to my question.  If someone tells me they are a "Woman Engineer" it begs the question "what kind of engineer are they?", their gender is irrelevant to the task at hand.  If they are an Electrical Engineer that happens to be a woman, I'm not going to ask them a geotechnical question--oh yeah if they were a man I wouldn't ask either.  

I work with an increasing number of females who chose to become engineers and I find them to have about the same chance of being competent as the males I work with.  I'm also finding it to be progressively less unusual to see a female accepted by her dinosaur peers.  That is a wonderful thing, prejudice is counterproductive.

Does a tag like "Woman Engineer" do anything to enhance your standing with your peers?  I've never been in your position, but it seems like you would be happier if gender were truly irrelevant and you got assignments, promotions, and raises based on your performance as a "Structural Engineer" rather than as a "Woman Engineer".  Maybe that is just my dinosaur mentality.

I'm still going to resist the tag "Woman Engineer" as adding words without adding germane information.

David

RE: women engineers

David,

Of course I would love to be judged based on my competency and not my gender.  And I would never identify myself as female first, structural second - I do structural engineering!  I see this distinction only as a tool for learning about a company, its likely attitudes towards female engineers in the workplace, and the corporate culture.  Context is everything.

It sounds like you're more welcoming than a lot of folks, especially in structural and construction - thank you for making it a non-issue when working with you.  Competency is competency, regardless of who possesses it.

I give technical presentations to engineering "laymen" six times a year, and at every single presentation, at least three people make a comment on the fact that I'm a woman and a structural engineer.  No one would ever say that if I were African-American.  Until the shock of a female engineer wears off to the general public, it will remain important to promote the fact that yes, women can be engineers, too.

Linnea

* sorry for the slight thread hijacking *

RE: women engineers

In my daily life I never ever allow a statement like "Women Engineer" to pass without (usually nasty) comment.  

Nothing noble here.  I'm as sexist, racist, and sectish (I may have just made that up, I mean it as "intolerant of religious differences") as the next guy.  I hate that characteristic about the human race and try really hard to ignore irrelevancies.  I think that as long as we think of individuals as having the characteristics we've arbitrarily assigned as belonging to some stupid tag or label, then that nonsense never leaves our society and we are so much worse off for it.

So, back to the thread the OP asked

Quote (shoelace):

The company has many woman engineers.
The company has many female engineers.or:
The company has many engineers who are women.
  I would say that the first two are irrelevant, grammatically incorrect, and somewhat offensive.  The third is more accurate.
David

RE: women engineers

(OP)
It's whether the grammer is correct that I'm interested in.  For example Linnea wrote:

"I've been the only female engineer at three of the four companies where I've worked..."

Had she written it like this:

"I've been the only woman engineer at three of the four companies where I've worked..."

it would have annnoyed me - not for any political reason - just because the grammer strikes me as being wrong.  It would never seem correct to me to say "I am a man engineer".  I'd use "I am a male engineer" or "an engineer who is a man" or "an engineer who is male".  I never bothered leaning the rules of grammer specifically.  Instead, some things just sound wrong to my ear.  "Woman engineer" being a case in point.  So I just wonder if "woman engineer" is grammatically wrong or if my ear is wrong.
 

RE: women engineers

(OP)
Actually, why not be even more specific?  What are the specific grammatical rules that make use of the term "woman engineer" either correct or incorrect in the contexts I've described.  In this respect, CajunCenturion has made the best contribution when he wrote:

"That being said, I would shy away from using an attributive noun when there is an adjective available, such as female."

However, "shy away from" does not imply a right or wrong.

RE: women engineers

I go back to my statement..."Why must there be a distinction?"  That's exactly David's point.  Who cares?  I don't care if you are male, female, white, black, oriental, Indian, American Indian or some mongrel...if you have the right answer YOU'RE the RIGHT CHOICE.

Screw the rest of it.  

RE: women engineers

(OP)
Ron,

It's just that this is the "Language and Grammer Skills" forum.  I'm really just interested in the grammer side of this issue.  But I decided to post here in Eng-tips because I'd just been reading the "Women Engineers" thread in the "where is engineering going in the next 5 years" forum and I wanted clarificaton on the issue.  But I felt this was a more appropriate forum in which to seek clarification.

As for the question "why must there be a distinction?" - I have no idea what you're on about.  If I need someone to drop off a drawing to the only female engineer on a work site should I not specify her gender? ... here, take this drawing to Sam - she's the female engineer at the ACME site.

 

RE: women engineers

I was wondering too that where was the mention or implication of distinction, sexism or discrimination in the OP's question.

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: women engineers

Well "women voters" or "women shoppers" are very common phrases in American English so that makes it correct.

RE: women engineers

(OP)
"Well "women voters" or "women shoppers" are very common phrases in American English so that makes it correct. "

No it does not make it correct!

Just because everyone says "you did good" - does not make it correct.  "you did well" is correct.  We are all free to be grammatically incorrect - but incorrect is incorrect.  Frequency of use has nothing to do with it correctness.

RE: women engineers

So I'm guessing you're in the double space after a period/full stop camp then shoelace.winky smile

As much as I love to rub someone the wrong way/play devils advocate in fairness to shoelace she's just questioning the grammar and is doing so in the appropriate place.

Some of this other discussion may be better suited to thread730-294840: Women Engineers.... or similar location.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: women engineers

(OP)
Actually, I happen to be a male shoelace - or should I be calling myself a man shoelace?  Or a shoelace that is a man?

Yes, yes - double space after a period of course.

RE: women engineers

shoelace,

CajunCenturion responded to your inquiry correctly.  "woman" is a singular noun and "women" is the plural form.  "women engineers" is poor grammar or writing; thus should be corrected.

other than that, a lot of opinions . . .

good luck!
-pmover

RE: women engineers

(OP)
pmover

CajunCenturion wins the prize for best response hands down.  But the singular/plural aspect of the issue was actually not at all what I was interested in - and I clarified that in subsequent posts.  The part of Cajun's response that did interest me was:

"That being said, I would shy away from using an attributive noun when there is an adjective available, such as female."

I agree with Cajuns position - we should avoid using the term "woman engineer" - however, I take it further - to me the term sounds gramatically incorrect - full stop.

You don't call people "boy students" or "man students" or "girl students" - it's completely wrong to my ear.  Same for "woman engieer" or "woman shopper".  I just want to nail it down why - or why not.

RE: women engineers

There are so many sexist jokes as to why 'woman engineer' is wrong to the ear however, I'm resisting as best I can.

I'll agree 'female engineer' sounds better than 'woman engineer' but beyond the reasoning given by cajun I'm not sure why, and in some contexts I'm guessing 'woman engineer' wouldn't sound too out of place.

Where's HGTX when you need her.

(he - she, oops, I nearly used 'they' then remembered someone getting upset about it's use as a singular gender indeterminate pronoun.)

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies http://eng-tips.com/market.cfm? (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

RE: women engineers

Imagine how fast some of us will be be turning (spinning) in grave when sms texting lingo becomes the 'correct" writing. We are doing pretty good if this is the bugging issue of the day.  

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: women engineers

sorrry to be so droll but what is sms texting lingo

RE: women engineers

SMS text "language" is the annoying mess that people make of the Queen's English to make "texting" on a phone easier.  "U" = "you", "LOL" = "Laughing out loud", "4" = "for". and thousands more that I mostly can't decipher.

David

RE: women engineers

==> So I just wonder if "woman engineer" is grammatically wrong or if my ear is wrong.
Strictly speaking, no, 'woman engineer' it is not grammatically wrong since singular nouns may be attributive.  However, 'women engineers' is grammatically wrong because plural nouns cannot be attributive.
 

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: women engineers

==> Well "women voters" or "women shoppers" are very common phrases in American English so that makes it correct.
They may be common, but they're still grammatically wrong.

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: women engineers

How about use of terms "Women Doctors", "Child Labor" ? seems consistent with Women Engineers.

Don't Dictionaries adopt words and phrases that do become common and drop out those not in use any more?

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: women engineers

"Women Doctors"?  Aren't they really called OB/Gyn?

David

RE: women engineers

No, OB/Gyn can be either a man or a woman. A woman doctor could even be a neurosurgeon.

A child labor do not do labor for or of a child.

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: women engineers

==> How about use of terms "Women Doctors", "Child Labor" ?
Women doctors is grammatically wrong.  Plural nouns cannot be attributive.  Child labor is fine because child is singular.  You wouldn't say children labor, nor would say chickens dinner.  Whenever a noun is being used as an adjective (attributive) you always use the singular form of the noun.  The adjective is not plural.  The plural belongs to the noun being modified.

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: women engineers

So what do women writers do?

WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) exists since 1943....

Women actors?

Society of Women Engineers? http://societyofwomenengineers.swe.org/
Exists since 1950.

This is not something a few have started misusing recently. There is no need to have ones knickers in a knot on this one.


 

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: women engineers

Opps - that should read chickens dinners.  The noun (dinners) is supposed to plural, but the noun functioning as an adjective (chicken) is never plural.
 

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: women engineers

==> So what do women writers do?
Fail english class.

==> There is no need to have ones knickers in a knot on this one.
Oh, my knickers are not in a knot at all.  shoelace asked was is correct and I've tried to provide the correct answer.  I couldn't care less whether anyone chooses to be correct or not.

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: women engineers

Cajun: I appreciate your comments too. Don't get me wrong.

Not being a native English speaker, I only try to do what locals do when it comes to language.  I am in the camp who believes any writing/communication that conveys the message correctly is acceptable. As for languages and grammar they keep changing and evolving over time. No one group or individual have authority over another.

I do not care as much for one's language skills, English or otherwise, especially in our engineering field. I would rather work with someone who knows about task at hand than his/her language skills or just a good person.

By the way I wondered about the title of this forum too, why would Engineering Grammar would be different than other type of grammar?.  

 

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: women engineers

==> I am in the camp who believes any writing/communication that conveys the message correctly is acceptable
I'm more in the camp that any writing/communication that conveys the correct message is acceptable.  I also firmly believe that the odds of the correct message being received increase significantly when one conveys the message correctly.
 

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: women engineers

Yes, except that correct message does not necessarily equate to correct grammar whose definitions are arbitrary to begin with.

I would rather have a correct message with imperfect grammar than a grammatically correct sentence with a wrong message.


 

Rafiq Bulsara
http://www.srengineersct.com

RE: women engineers

Problem is that it is sad how often poor grammar renders a good message unintelligible.  I had a friend who was almost proud of his illiterate writing style--his favorite quote was (he said) from Mark Twain "It is a very small mind that can only think of one way to spell a word".  A consequence of his poor grammar and terrible spelling was that he rarely got a proposal accepted.  Finally he admitted that he had a problem and would allow a couple of his peers to edit his work.  Poorly presented good ideas (at least for him) led to repeated failure.  Well presented good ideas led to repeated success.  Same ideas from the same guy, only difference was presentation.

Today, when I see a question on eng-tips.com that has acceptable grammar, has been spell checked, and has paragraph spacing will elicit a lot more patience and willingness to help than one that looks a mess and has text-speak spelling (which I generally close without responding and never open again).

David

RE: women engineers

==> Yes, except that correct message does not necessarily equate to correct grammar whose definitions are arbitrary to begin with.
The grammar is part of the message.  The purpose of syntax and grammar is to reduce ambiguity and improve the clarity of the message.  If you as the sender are using one set of grammar rules and the receiver is using a different set of grammar rules, then communication becomes more difficult.  In your post of 5 May 11 13:48, you used the phrase:
"conveys the message correctly"
I responded in my post of 5 May 11 14:47 with this phrase:
"convey the correct message"
Both are grammatically correct, yet they mean two different things.  In your phrase, correctly is an adverb which applies to verb convey.  It has no bearing on the correctness of the message; it means that it was conveyed correctly.  In my phrase, correct is an adjective which applies directly to the message, but says nothing about how that message was conveyed.  Both are grammatically correct, but they mean different things.

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: women engineers

(OP)
Thanks Cajun,

You have really cleared up the issue for me.

I would always totally and completely tune out during grammer lessons in school.  Maybe I should try learning it again.

Cheers

RE: women engineers

You're very welcome.

Good Luck
--------------
As a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it. - Albert Einstein

RE: women engineers

Shoelace.

Please don't take this the wrong way,  but under the circumstances,  I think it is appropriate to point this out.

Grammer - Wrong.
Grammar - Correct.
 

RE: women engineers

(OP)
Spelling is the computer's job.  I have absolutely no respect for the way words are spelt in the english language.

RE: women engineers

Is it really required to mention the gender for the Engineers if she is a woman? We don't see Female/Woman/Women Doctor/s any way. Same goes for the educationist.

RE: women engineers

(OP)
Generally speaking, the mentioning of an engineer's gender is not a requirement (although not doing so may be a ticketable offence in some states).

So when you are on the job site, in order to avoid mentioning gender, you may choose to tell the courier to deliver the package to the engineer with the lumpy chest.

RE: women engineers

Quote (shoelace):

engineer with the lumpy chest.

Is that really gender neutral with our abundant food sources today?

RE: women engineers

Interesting that no one suggested lady engineer... long way from 1950 I suppose. winky smile

Thumbs up to CanjunCenturian! thumbsup2    Was your mother a high school English teacher?
 

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