Archive for No clear difference between tags and categories

Female Engineers and Lying at Interview

Posted in Alas the Mystery Remains Holmes, Engineering, Irregular Features, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , on April 1, 2014 by awickerman

Lured in by the bewitching headline that 1 in 10 of the population had named a Brunel when asked to name a famous female living engineer or scientist. One can only assume they felt the same confusion I did as frankly it’s a struggle; I could name plenty of female engineers, I just don’t think anyone has heard of them so I wouldn’t call them famous.

Resolving to solve this mystery I tracked down the organisation behind this poll, hoping to find the actual source data. Alas the depressingly 1990s name ScienceGrrl has decided not to release that information, perhaps because they too are struggling with a famous living female engineer but don’t want to admit it.

Now to the point of this post, this article by one of their directors. It begins by her complaining about how she had to lie about pretending to be interested in Lego to get her first engineering job, she then glosses over the part about how she didn’t last long in the real world and ran off to the fluffy world of non-profit development work and research before ending on what she would like to have said at interview, a bundle of content-free buzzword heavy fluff about impacting on disadvantaged communities and working respectfully. She even talked about shifting goalposts, frankly I was left feeling slightly ill. Perhaps this explains why I drew two completely contradictory conclusions;

1. It was a good thing she did lie at interview, because if she had spouted that bilge at me I’d have never hired her. Engineering is about many things, but buzzwords, fluff and waffling like an architect are never helpful.

2. It was a terrible mistake she did lie at interview, had she said the “truth” hopefully the interviewer would have stopped it there and kindly explained she was in the wrong industry. I like to imagine they would have gone on to suggest she stop wasting everyone’s time and just go work in a fluffy job, much like the ones she has now. Alas her poor first employer was woefully misled into thinking she was a proper engineer who liked Lego and not a naive, idealistic buzzword spouter (her words not mine, well the first two anyway)

On the subject of the actual problem, the lack of women in engineering and science, I really can’t help. I would read their doubtless thrilling report on the subject, but frankly it starts with ‘Gender Lenses’ and just goes down hill from there. It does appear to be a long list of ‘Anyway, the point is we need more money’, as these reports always are, mixed in with baffling contradictions about how girl’s “STEM needs” are the same, but also different. However maybe I’m just not using my Gender Lenses correctly and it will all make sense if I squint a bit and knock down the diversity stereotypes.  Or not.


Why I Rarely Post

Posted in Engineering, Irregular Features, Posts that are far longer than I first intended, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , on March 22, 2012 by awickerman

Saw this job advert – a trainee asbestos surveyor – and was somewhat surprised at how little it pays (15-17k) for someone with an engineering degree working in Kent/London. Especially given the many, many opportunities for engineers on such low profile jobs as Crossrail and High Speed 2. And the fact that if you do really well, get trained up and get a few years of fibrey death experience you might get up to 25k (or might get barely more than a trainee).

Sadly I ended up poking around the Office of National Statistics trying to find out what a typical engineering degree actually pays, which I soon realised was far, far too much research for a blog read by up to several people. Of course I could just rely on one of those self-selecting salary surveys. Equally I could use tarot cards or astrology, which I suspect would be about as accurate. While I’m sure the answer is somewhere, I’m equally sure I can think of better things to do with my time. Hence why I rarely post; I like to try and check the facts are correct, even if the wild accusations aren’t, but I no longer think it’s really worth the time.

The Continuing Adventures of the Dube

Posted in Almost Beyond Words, Irregular Features, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , , on October 4, 2010 by awickerman

Despite sounding like the world’s worst Sherlock Holmes adventure the Dube lives. Yes for those who had forgotten (or never cared or deliberately repressed the memory..) the Dube is Dion Dublin’s effort to revolutionise percussion with an instrument he has invented. And here it is;

It's a large cube that allegedly makes drum noises. Allegedly

Words almost fail me.

So it’s a large cardboard looking box that you hit to make noise. Is this actually an invention or did he just steal it off his kids? Or indeed someone else’s children?

That said when last discussed around these parts I foolishly dismissed it as probably not genuine, I clearly under-estimated just how much time an ex-footballer type has to waste on this sort of thing. Let that be a lesson to one and all; never trust musically inclined ex-footballers with cardboard boxes.

Why Germans Can’t Tunnel #1

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Tunnels with tags , , , , , , , on September 13, 2010 by awickerman

An occasional series looking at why the Germans are the last people I would ask to build a tunnel. Today’s lesson was prompted by the on-going archiving at work which dug up this fun project from the vaults;


Today’s triumph of German precision and efficiency is the 1994 Munich U-Bahn collapse. Essentially while using the world’s least reliable tunnelling system they managed to bugger up construction of the U2 line tunnel so badly the road above collapsed under the weight of a passing bus. Hilarity failed to ensue when several of the passengers failed to escape in time.

This is bad enough but it’s not like they weren’t warned; there had been a very similar (if non-fatal) collapse while building the U1 line. German tunnelling collapses is the gift that keeps on giving, so this series should run and run.

Names, the importance therof

Posted in Irregular Features, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , on August 25, 2010 by awickerman

As the gripping saga of what a small child’s name will be rumbles on I am reminded of the importance of picking a good name. Specifically the ancient and noble art of giving a child an unsuitable name just because it’s amusing, exemplified by this classic;

Ivor Broom

Such brilliance! When will we see it’s like again?

The Hero Complex

Posted in Irregular Features, Tenuous Link of the Day, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , on August 22, 2010 by awickerman

After watching the quite excellent ‘Lie to Me’ recently one of the characters mentioned a ‘Hero complex’ among American fire-fighters which meant they were almost eight times more likely to die on the job than other first world firemen.

Continue reading

The Fickle Incompetence of Crowds

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Even Stevie Wonder Saw That Coming, Irregular Features with tags , , , on May 10, 2010 by awickerman

A handy counter point to the whole wisdom of crowds and crowdsourcing guff; Ebbsfleet United have been relegated. For those who missed the story (or never cared in the first place) this is the football club that was brought by random internet chaps under the guise of MyFootballClub.

These new internet overlords directed the club using the votes of the members, with frankly disastrous results, not least the club ending last season with only 3 players on the books as they left it too late to negotiate with the rest of the team, hence they all buggered off. Unsurprisingly they therefore struggled this season and finally got relegated.

So lessons to learn from this; crowds can and do arse things up,people are fickle (out of the original 30k members only 800 are still paying and total membership has slumped to 4k) and having a very public vote of confidence on the manger (i.e. actually tallying up people in favour of sacking him and then publicising the very, very close result) does undermine his authority.

Frankly nothing you couldn’t have guessed beforehand, but always nice to see these things confirmed.

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