There is nothing about amateur radio or the social misfits that typically populate this hobby that is even remotely appealing to women.
I'm not exactly in amateur radio because of all us sexy dudes either...
Let's break this sentence apart, into the two possibilities, second one first:
There is nothing about ... the social misfits that typically populate this hobby that is even remotely appealing to women.
Do you think that men
join up because they like the company of smelly, awkward nerds? No. We tolerate being around (and being) smelly, awkward nerds because we like ham radio. I have very little in common with most hams who are friends of mine. I'm twenty or thirty years younger than they are, I may have differing political views, I may like doing different things outside of ham radio. But it doesn't matter much because we share the common interest in radio propagation and maximizing, in particular, DX ability of our stations for hard paths. I do have a few ham friends who are about my age and in similar careers and who I might conceivably be friends with outside of ham radio too, but more of them are people who are more likely to be my parents' friends than mine.
Women aren't joining up for a hobby to meet men. Women who want to be radio hams will do so because they like radio
. That's why I'm a ham. I like radio
. I don't do it because I have a particular fondness for the other people who are on the air (no offense intended). It is probably true that women who have been brought up in families where it was made clear that women should have impeccable manners even if men don't, the on-air behavior on parts of the bands is probably less tolerable to some women than it is to the men who are doing it.
But honestly, I find those parts of the bands completely intolerable and useless myself. You're going to tell fart jokes on the air? You're going to engage in "politically incorrect" blathering for the sake of being offensive and nothing else? Even worse you're being explicitly sexist, racist, or homophobic on the air? Screw that noise. That's a bunch of people who I don't want to talk to using the radio for a boring and irritating purpose. I would literally rather listen to background static . That brings us to the first part of your statement:
There is nothing about amateur radio ... that is even remotely appealing to women
That assumes that there's something different about men and women in the ability to appreciate radio for radio's sake,
and if there is any such preference, it's at least partially the result of incessant societal pressure that science and technology are "male" things. Women are not necessarily actually fundamentally turned off by the RADIO part of radio.
My wife loves the sound of DX CW ... she loves the fluttery spooky sound of a UA0 coming in over the pole on 20m. Actually, pretty much all of our friends, male or female, appreciate and are interested in that. That sound... the modification of the signal as it whisks its way wirelessly from there to here, is what I'm interested in. And it appears to have universal appeal to my friends. Granted, most of my friends, male and female can probably be classified as "geeks" or "nerds," who care more about being interested in the world around them than in whether people think such curiosity is weird. But they're not all science geeks... a lot of them are music geeks or art geeks or generic, free floating geeks. And plenty of them are women.
Now, have any of those people actually shown direct interest in becoming a ham? Nope. I think that
is where a need for home-built electronics geekery comes in. My friends, male and female, like listening to my station but I don't think any of them really want to work out their own station to do that.
And it's probably true on a statistical basis that "women don't like electronics." If you did a survey, you might find that. But that is not necessarily
a fundamental hard-wiring of women. It's part of our societal set up to subconsciously steer women away from science and technology. Part of that background pressure away from science and technology is that everyone is always saying that women don't like science and technology. Young children, to some (and probably large) extent, learn
what they like and do not like. They learn it from the people around them. That's not to say that inherent biological gender differences are impossible
, but people like to lean on the idea that a genetic component is of primary importance, despite a lot of evidence that girls women are often treated as if they can't do science and math even if they're expressing a current, active interest in doing so!
We will never completely untangle nature vs. nurture, but it's kind of beside the point to worry about that when we exert such massive subconscious pressure steering kids of different genders to the "appropriate" or "preferred" things. Science and technology involvement can be a very rewarding thing, and maybe if little girls don't tend to find it themselves, we could try a little harder to introduce it to them and to make sure they have role models of women in science and technology. If we want a little more gender balance in ham radio, one of the biggest things we can do is make sure we don't assume
that "girls don't like this stuff, only boys do."
That is a largely self-fulfilling statement. The only way to prove that it's not entirely
self fulfilling (i.e. to prove that there is a genetic/hormonal component to it) is really to eliminate all the societal pressure one way or the other. That kind of controlled experiment can't (and probably shouldn't) be done on humans. But what we can do is be aware of the subtle messages that boys and girls get and try to avoid sending them ourselves.
Don't assume that only the boys and dads in the neighborhood would be interested to come over for the station tour. Bring the whole family over, give equal time to Billy and Susan and assume
that their interest is the same, even if you suspect it's not... Ham radio isn't boy stuff. It's interesting radio stuff, and that isn't actually particular to genetics. And as far as the overweight wacky antenna dudes go? They're not why I'm in this hobby, even if I am "one of them." I don't have a car covered in antennas and I don't have a callsign hat. I think there are some pretty darn silly things that seem to go along, culturally, with a ham ticket. They don't bother me a whole lot because I'm not interested in participating in ham culture. I'm interested in using my radio to ping far off places and to see what comes back. I could care less if the person on the other end has a T-shirt with an antenna sewn into it and "EVGENY, UD0RK" in flashing LED's across the back. I just care that UD0RK and I both like beeping at each other with some tenuous plasma as the only intermediary.
If you can't fathom that appealing to women too, well... that
is a big part of the problem.