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10 July 2008 @ 08:37 am
Forwarded from the Women in Computing Research Mailing List  
How would the UK IT industry run if there were suddenly no men?
Mammoth Screen are an independent television drama production company and they are currently developing a new idea for an ITV television drama series for which they need to undertake some detailed research before the screenwriter can get started.
The project is going to explore the question of how the UK would function if society underwent a sudden demographic change whereby there were no men: only women. Whilst this is obviously a hypothetical scenario, they are hoping to take current research and expertise on demographic breakdown to create an informed and realistic picture of how Britain might work in such conditions.
One area they are investigating is how employment in key areas of infrastructure is divided between the sexes e.g. given that the majority of long haul lorry drivers are male, would petrol forecourts dry up and would supermarket shelves go empty if men were taken out of society?
Similarly, would the national grid fail because the majority of its operating engineers are male, or does it work on a fairly automated basis?
Another area they are looking into is the sociological, emotional and psychological side of how people would cope in the aftermath of such a traumatic and shocking change to their lives. They're hoping to take studies and research from other recent scenarios where society has been faced with trauma or sudden loss of men to create a picture of how the characters in our drama might respond.
With regards to the IT industry, what they would love to know is how you think women would cope with the increased amount of pressure at work as there are so few women in technological services. Do you think some areas of technology would collapse altogether due to lack of staff?
They are also interested to know if there's anything else that leaps out at you after reading the premise of the show.
They are looking for your input asap as the writer would like to start work on the screenplay within the next month or so.

I can't help thinking this idea could work but is more likely to be the most horrendous sexist drivel.
Simon Proctorscimon on July 10th, 2008 08:22 am (UTC)
Umm... wouldn't society just kind of collapse? Not saying that men are in any way more important then women but if 50% of the population disappeared wouldn't everyone be rather more involved in panicing and wondering where there lost loved ones were?

Unless of course they mean the mythical planet of the women where men never existed and women reproduced by budding or something. In which case they would have a nice stable society that will have evolved differently due to the different pressure that this alternate reproductive system entailed.

I could see it being spun as sexist drivel on either side really either, 'Ooo look men are vitally important without us you poor ladies wouldn't have any power to run your hair dryers' or 'Look chaps you really are redundant now the world wouldn't even notice if you disappeared, maybe we would keep a few of you in reserves.'

louisedennis: programminglouisedennis on July 10th, 2008 08:36 am (UTC)
Yes, sexist both ways I think. The questions about male (and female) dominated industries are interesting but it seems likely the whole thing is going to boil down to men are aggressive and bad at displaying emotion while women are nuturing consensus builders who can't make hard decisions type stuff.
Simon Proctorscimon on July 10th, 2008 08:48 am (UTC)
Thing is, I do think that men and women are different, they do approach problems and life from different directions and in general have different priorities.
I also think this is a good thing and neither way is 'right' focussing on one to the exclusion of the other is craziness.
louisedennis: erinyeslouisedennis on July 10th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
I think there are differences in general which do not necessarily apply to specific individuals and I think there is an interesting discussion about what those differences are and the extent to which they arise from nature and the extent to which they arise from nuture. However I find it hard to imagine an intelligent debate about those differences arising from the premise as described.
philmophlegm: B7philmophlegm on July 10th, 2008 09:14 am (UTC)
"Unless of course they mean the mythical planet of the women where men never existed and women reproduced by budding or something. In which case they would have a nice stable society that will have evolved differently due to the different pressure that this alternate reproductive system entailed."

Until that is, Captain Kirk arrives, defeats the Klingon captain in single combat (du-du-durr-durr-durr-durr-du-du-durr-du), while his clothes get ripped in a suggestive manner, enflames the passions of the surprisingly young, exotically beautiful and scantily-clad matriarch, ignores the Prime Directive and completely destabilises the amazonian, utopian society...
Simon Proctorscimon on July 10th, 2008 09:20 am (UTC)
It's always a problem, Pesky Cap'n Kirk and his pesky easily ripped uniforms. You'd think Starfleet would learn, if the prime directive won't stop him maybe some kevlar will do the trick.
Andyalitalf on July 25th, 2008 12:33 pm (UTC)
Decimation - killing one in ten - was supposed to pretty much wreck morale. Sudden removal of half the population would probably be devastating, whichever half was removed. Actually, across the age ranges, it might be just under half, because women are said to live longer, on average, than men. Still shocking, though.

If, magically, nobody was shocked into headless chicken mode, then I guess there would be a few breakdowns and problems before the relatively few techies left could train a new contingent. Big deal.

A proportion of the work done nowadays is pointless wheel spinning, or potentially avoidable things like coping with an insanely complex tax system. I guess some of the more absurd legal requirements would be suspended to allow the competent people to concentrate on the necessary tasks, even if they also had to do a bit of retraining. If you can, for example, design spreadsheets to cope with capital gains and taper relief, you could, with enough reason to do so, probably retrain fairly quickly to cope with, say, electrical engineering. You'd need comparable mental capacity in either case.

Edited at 2008-07-25 12:34 pm (UTC)
louisedennislouisedennis on July 27th, 2008 11:18 am (UTC)
You're probably right. Assuming there wasn't an immediate collapse the long-term problems are more likely to be associated with an aging population than skills shortages.
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louisedennis: torchwoodlouisedennis on July 10th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
Sadly that probably makes the premise even more attractive. Oh gawd - that idea in the hands of your average TV exec will probably just turn the whole thing into a thinly veiled wish-fulfillment fantasy.
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louisedennis: torchwoodlouisedennis on July 10th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
How well will this translate into the mind of an ITV executive? I can't imagine "uncompromising" translating very well into anything that's trying to cash in on the success of Doctor Who... nor non-exploitative lesbians translating well into anything trying to cash into the more limited (but not apparently in the US) success of Torchwood.

I don't want to diss the comic about which I know nothing. But the basic premise in the hands of ITV doesn't fill me with anything approaching confidence.
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firinfirin on July 10th, 2008 11:02 am (UTC)
It has already been done from the opposite angle (almost no women in the world) in Frank Herbert's White Plague. I enjoyed that book a great deal and I'd be interested to see how a drama with the removal of men might develop, but I, like you, also have considerable scepticism. It really depends on the writer's bias and the prevalence of gender stereotyping among the production seniors.
louisedennis: torchwoodlouisedennis on July 10th, 2008 05:44 pm (UTC)
To be honest I think it also depends what market they are chasing. Most TV SF being produced at the moment is chasing either the Dr Who or Torchwood audience and I can't imagine this idea being handled intelligently for either of those audiences (especially not the Torchwood one) or, in fact, for any ITV audience. In fact gominokouhai's reference to that "last man on Earth" comic just makes me think depressed thoughts about a Torchwood "sexed-up" style version of the story in which a Mary Sue for the author/production exec turns out to be the only man capable of solving the problems of numerous infeasibly good-looking women (because, you know, he understands technology and stuff) who proceed to throw themselves at him (that's when they aren't having hot lesbian sex). If it was being made for BBC 4 I might have some hope but being made for ITV? I just can't see it.

Maybe I'm unnecessarily jaundiced about modern TV.

Edited at 2008-07-10 05:45 pm (UTC)