One interesting piece of data yielded up by our first sales report relates to gender. So far, 80% of those who have invested in The No-Nonsense Proofreading Course are women.
In the 20 years I’ve been proofreading and working with proof readers, it has been a largely male-dominated field. Why? I’m not quite sure, but it probably has something to do with the fact that proofreading, up until about ten years ago, was part and parcel of the print industry, and the print industry – with its typesetters, compositors and plate-makers – was something of a working man’s arena. Old habits die hard and like tends to beget like, so the proofreading ‘sub-industry’ continued to recreate itself very much in its own image. As a rule, the gender that dominates a particular profession will dig its heels in against the threat of change from its opposite number. Just ask my dad: a nurse in the NHS throughout the seventies and eighties.
So, why the gender shift in proofreading? Well, it goes without saying that there is no reason why women shouldn’t make highly-effective proof readers (and, in my experience, they frequently do). In fact, statistics suggest much greater levels of literacy amongst girls in both primary and secondary schools than boys. We must deduce, then, that it’s a matter of opportunity. Up until recently, that opportunity knocked but rarely.
And, then, along came the internet.
The ability to work from home and make money online is something that women have grasped with both hands, far more effectively than their male counterparts. You only have to look at the support structures women have created online (the working mum’s forums, for example) to see just how successfully they’ve staked their claim on the work-from-home phenomenon. Men are lagging behind in this virtual world, perhaps because we lack the natural urge to cooperate; perhaps because we still persist in our view of the internet as an online marketplace, whereas women tend to see it for what it really is: a vast conversation, with commercial opportunities available to those who are able to participate in said conversation in the most energetic and vivacious fashion. I mean, where are the work-from-home dad’s forums? Enough said.
The internet really has changed things for the better, at least in terms of providing equal access when it comes to work-from-home opportunities.
Still, it’s early days yet. I’ll keep you posted on this interesting trend when we produce our next sales report in about four weeks’ time.
To all of you who bought the book: thank you!