Why should engineers read more fiction?

2 – Gender Balance

According to Mary Ann Sieghart, most women read books without considering the gender of the author, but many men in UK and USA will only read books by men. She called this The Authority Gap (and wrote a book about it – but we’re focussing on fiction here).

In Europe and North America, most engineers are men, so I challenge you all to check your own reading balance and if you find it skewed, to consciously set out to embrace diversity.

When I go to a real live bookshop and tell them what fiction I enjoy reading, the good booksellers will recommend something new, often something that takes me out of my comfort zone.

Try it; you might be surprised at what you’ve been missing.

If gender denotes a range of identities that do not necessarily correspond to established concepts of male and female then reading fiction is a great way to explore those ideas in complete safety.

My recommendation: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, first published in 1969

I don’t mean love… I mean fear. The fear of the other.

A human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter and struggles to come to terms with a host society where where the inhabitants’ gender is fluid.

Continue to number three – Travel

The full list of 10 recommended books (and a few extras) is available here

Fiona Erskine is a professional engineer and the author of Jaq Silver thrillers The Chemical DetectiveThe Chemical ReactionThe Chemical Cocktail and genre defying Phosphate Rocks: A death in Ten Objects.

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