[CQ-Contest] Recruiting Women into Contesting

Allan & Bridget dxcc at dbtech.net
Thu Jul 29 01:38:29 EDT 2004

Interesting topic and ideas being put forth (no comment on the G-string).

I believe that Dave, K4JRB, is correct in thinking that the ratio of female
contesters to female hams in the ham population is about the same as that of
our male counterparts.

Perhaps the best way to recruit women into contesting is to do the same
thing the contesting community is doing (or should be doing) to attract more
men into contesting.

Each aspect of our hobby tends to have a "culture" of its own, and it makes
sense that each newcomer falls into whatever "culture" is most prevalent for
his or her area.  I married a guy (then KB4FAI, now KV4T) who loves getting
on the radio and making lots of contacts, especially during a contest.
Because of this, I found it only natural that I should do the same.  At the
time, I had never heard a 2m FM repeater and figured that to gain any
"respect" I had to at least earn my Technician Plus ticket.  Of course, I am
also fortunate that I have a husband who is a great elmer and is someone who
is not threatened by any of my accomplishments.

Angela, WN4C, (probably best known as Rebekah, WG4Y's mom) got her start in
contesting by watching me operate during one of the IARU Championships.  I
knew she was hooked the moment she began trying to decide from what country
each person I answered came (and shortly thereafter became KG4OPB).  For
now, she and I are the only YLs in the area (that I know of) who enjoy
contesting.  Rebekah is an up-and-comer as well (although 5th grade did tie
her down a bit last year).  I honestly believe that elmering and making
stations available is very important, as well as receiving support and
chances for a "positive experience".

Self restrictions are common in this hobby, and I'm not sure that they are
necessarily gender based.  I have just as many men talk to me about their
fears in terms of not knowing electronics as I do women (proportionally, of
course)...as the liaison for the local VE team, I'm often the first one to
hear of these insecurities.  I would also say that competitive traits aren't
gender specific, although personally, like Merri, I tend to compete more
with myself.  Available stations ARE a problem.  Field Day (and I know a lot
of you disagree with me on this) is a great beginning for contesting.  It's
non-threatening because there are inexperienced ops who are put with men and
women who can provide guidance (a favorite technique is to have the
experienced op log while the inexperienced op calls CQ...I've watched people
go from not understanding a word being said on SSB to pulling out calls in
noisy condx).

Choosing a lower impact contest is probably a good idea for anyone just
starting out.  VHF contests are good starters and are contests that
Technicians can do with their own calls (one always hopes that there will be
enough contacts available to keep the interest alive).  And because of the
weak signals one often encounters, the need for CW becomes obvious while
listening skills are honed.  ;-)

I would suggest, then, that in order to recruit more contesters (male or
female), we need to make contesting a more recognized part of the hobby.  In
order to do this, we need to be willing to open up our stations to others,
give club presentations (non-contesting clubs of course), and  teaching ham
classes.  We also need to give contesting a more human face, fighting the
stereotypes that many anti-contesters have given us.

This hobby is a friendly one, and I have rarely felt "out of place" in this
male dominated pastime.  Merri very aptly pointed out that most operators
are supportive and act like gentlemen, while not being condescending.  And
it IS a huge thrill to hear people come back with your name, especially
during a CW contest!  Who said that contesting isn't very social?!  =)

For reasons beyond my control, I haven't been on the air as much lately, but
hope to be back on the air with full fervor soon...and also hope to hear you
answering my CQ.  ;-)

Bridget, KS4YT :0)
"Once upon a time my political opponents honored me as possessing the
fabulous intellectual and economic power by which I created a worldwide
depression all by myself."  --Herbert Hoover

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