[CQ-Contest] Recruiting women into contesting

Merrimon Crawford Pladsen ab0mv at ix.netcom.com
Mon Jul 26 18:55:56 EDT 2004

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 

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 

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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