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Re: [CQ-Contest] Recruiting women into contesting

To: cq-contest@contesting.com
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] Recruiting women into contesting
From: Merrimon Crawford Pladsen <ab0mv@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Mon, 26 Jul 2004 18:55:56 -0400
List-post: <mailto:cq-contest@contesting.com>
HI everyone
I am not so sure I am the one to answer this since the contest bug hit me within the first week of upgrading from Technician to Tech Plus and it only got more intense as I upgraded to General, then Advanced and then Extra.....but it would be nice to hear the voices of YLs respond to this......

An electronics degree or even knowledge is not necessarily a prerequisite....although my undergraduate degree was in photography and I did mix all my own chemicals from scratch...I am not a particularly technical person....I spent 10 years in grad school studying Medieval French, Latin, and Old English/Middle English literature.....so people can become hams and then contesters from many backgrounds....

I became a ham after staffing a Red Cross Disaster shelter during Hurricane Fran in NC. I was bored and spent most of the night talking to a 12 year old YL ham doing our emergency communications. I just thought that was the coolest thing I had seen in a while and got my first license 3 months later....I don't think it mattered that the first ham I spoke with was a YL...talked to others during damage assessment---both men and women.

All I can say is the contest bug hit me the minute I heard my first contest the first weekend I turned on HF after upgrading and getting my first HF radio.

I don't even think having a good station matters. I started with the worst contest set-up....Ten Tec Scout (50w) and the worst antennas ever (second story apt).

A couple of things did help me start and keep my interest in contesting:
1. Contesters who QSLed...even the ones who QSLed when I was new and naive and did not even send an SASE or IRC. I still remember some of those. Maybe they could tell I was new from my call. Often the first contact one has with the circle wider than one's local club is with the QSL card.

2. Nice contacts on the air from hams who remembered my name and some of the big guns working hard to get my lousy signal...Doug operating at W6EEN, KL7Y, K1VUT and a list of others including DX stations that would be too long to include here (sorry to all of you omitted---I do remember you!). People who act like gentlemen on the air.

3. PVRC-NC. I joined and all these people were fun. I felt like a real member even with my lousy antennas etc. At the time 200-300 QSOs per contest were quite good from my station and they never made me feel inferior. Instead, they recognized my accomplishments and encouraged me. I liked the group a lot----no show-offs or huge egos or old boy networks....just a fantastic group of people.
As an aside, I should say that my first interests were in emergency communications. I was the Assistant EC in my county. Without getting into too many details, I became very disenchanted with the hierarchy beyond my county. I ran into a serious old boy network.... It just wasn't worth my time to deal with that.
So, in contrast to this, the PVRC and PVRC-NC group was a real breath of fresh air-----people cared about contesting, not silly things.
I have found the same kind of thing here in Colorado with Grand Mesa Contesters of Colorado.

4. Seeing contest results in QST. Oh well....that's gone. I work too much on the internet that the last thing I want to do is go to the web for that. At least some of the non-US international contests send out results to participants. I am increasing my participation in those contests.

5. Big guns who have let me use their stations here in Colorado. I get bored if I am not challenged and being able to use big antennas and hear a whole different level of radio/contesting definitely helps. They have done more to keep me fired up about contesting.

6. A variety of contests available. Sometimes I feel more like one than another.

7. Being able to encourage other new budding hams/contesters.

I have always said Ham radio is a feminist's dream---one of the few places where a woman is treated (usually) like an equal and a lady simultaneously. This is even more true in the niche of contesting for the most part---not always true, but generally true.

Well, as a YL contester, that's at least a summary of why I got into contesting. I may be unusual...some of my other hobbies are male dominated too like stamps collecting and I went to a prep school that was a boys school (I was actually in the first class of women). I've always just done what interested/challenged me intellectually.

I think that in some cases the things that would encourage most YLs are the same things that would encourage both sexes---nice considerate behavior whether it be QSLing, being polite on the air, helping others grow technically and in terms of operating skill, not talking down to newbies or being too clic-oriented, contest clubs that are open to new members instead of some elite closed club....

73 & 88
Merri AB0MV

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