This paper was originally presented at MLA in 1992.
This is the original conclusion, which was sent in with the original paper in January of 1992.
Six years and four hundred students have been enough to note some gender issues in my technical writing classroom. Female students write on gender-related topics; male students do not. Female students use personal anecdotes as persuasion; male students do not. Both female and male students use sexist language, despite education and punitive attempts to change their language usage at least for one course.
What are the implications of these facts? Our students reflect the world around them. As Deborah Tannen noted in You Just Donâ€™t Understand, men and women have different styles of communicating.
When they must communicate with each other in groups, both change their styles but the women change more. Female students have to learn how to cope with a previously male-only business world.
Their papers on gender related issues are a way of seeking to learn how to adjust, I think. Female students use personal anecdotes as persuasion because these are seen as persuasive by women; however, not all female students employ it. Even those students who had personal reasons for choosing their topics did not always include this information in their papers.
Neither female nor male students are using inclusive language; it is uncomfortable and unaccepted. So the female students use language which excludes them from the very things they are attempting to gain entrance to by completing their university degrees.
The workplace, including the university, is still a male dominated environment to which women adapt either because of conscious choice or because it is easier to fit in than to be different.