Women are just smarter.
I think your estimate of 2 percent women is too high. I've never met one in over 30 years in the hobby. It's not as if women don't enjoy music, and they certainly patronize live music events. I know many women musicians and singers. I postulate there must be some difference between male and female brains to account for the audiophile disparity, though I don't know what it is. A parallel in the animal kingdom can be seen in birds. Male birds sing; females don't -- though females judge male bird vitality in part by their songs, so they are in a sense audiophiles. Perhaps, however, it's the audiophile hardware -- women don't like it. Thus, men have recognized the WAF, wife acceptance factor, when it comes to spousal acceptance of playback gear. It may also be about the need for control. What is this hobby if an not an attempt to create a perfect virtual world over which we have absolute dominion? Men want one; women don't care. Men are into things; women into people and relationships. My wife has often remarked, when forced to listen to my system, that the experience "is better than being there. It truly transports me to another place." After listening to one cut of an album, she invariably leaves to return a phone call -- an experience which she obviously finds more engaging. I, on the other hand, cannot abide a phone call that lasts more than a minute. Male brains and female brains: different.
Perhaps that's as close to a perfect response as we are going to get.
My counterpoint question is, Why do women shy away from competition, even when they can win?
I recently read the following:
Research indicates that even at a task that women clearly perform as well as men, they are less likely to choose a competitive setting, more likely to underrate their performance when they have to guess at it, and perhaps even more likely to shy away from receiving feedback. If women shy away from competition and men compete too much, the authors wrote, this decreases the chance of women succeeding in competition for promotions and more lucrative jobs.
As you accurately stated, male brains and female brains; different.
Hey, I'm a female audiophile! Not all women shop for shoes, you know! Men audiophiles don't take women audiophiles seriously, that's the problem! The few female audiophiles there may be on Audiogon will agree with me. When I go shopping for new gear and the seller (always a man) doesn't know me, he just takes me to a room where all cheap hi-fi gear is stored. When I tell them what exactly it is I'm after, they just frown and look at me in a funny kind of way (could that be a mocking way?), but soon we talk business. So you see, guys, there are some serious female audiophiles here on Audiogon! Happy Holidays and Happy Listening!
Jmcgrogan2 ... "Male brains and female brains: different"
John ... early on in evolutionary development the female of the species elected beauty over intellegence, because even at this early point in the developemental process the female's of the species realized ... "that the male of the species could SEE better than they could THINK"
Albertporter, you write:
"My counterpoint question is, Why do women shy away from competition"
Excuse me, but when I look around I see many successful competitive women.
Women who run countries (Margaret Thatcher) or who want to (Hillary).
Women who run major companies (Margaret C. Whitman at eBay)
Women who compete in sports, just look at the Olympics.
So I disagree, I don't think women shy away from competition, I think they shy away from high-end Audio and I can't understand why.
It's not just the brains that are different; Many body parts differ radically from male to female - guys - in case you haven't yet noticed! ;^)
Pzuckerman was probably closest with his "dominion" comment. Men (usually) have a great deal more testosterone, which instills a drive to either "nail it, or kill it." In so many venues, for men it's all about facing challenges, going up against adversaries, dealing with the threat of imminent death, pushing the edges and limits, and finally breaking through these challenges in victory. (Think football.) In the process, men "empty" themselves through their efforts, and thus find the freedom - emptiness, stillness - that they crave. (Here, think of the culmination of another of our favorite activities, as an example.) Given a choice after these efforts, men would sit, stay still & quiet, witnessing whatever arises (hopefully a roast beef sandwich.)
Women, with estrogen, have a completely different mode. Women (usually) are not very interested in aggression, challenges, and breaking through to emptiness and freedom. They are drawn by communion with others (dear friends), relational activities (that phone call, gathering), fullness (chocolate!, shopping), motion and flow (dancing.) Women, in general, strive to fill themselves and stay in motion, rather than empty themselves as men do. The ultimate goal of woman is to be one with the world of form.
So how does this relate to audio?
Men address the challenge of setting up the "perfect" sound system. It is a fight, a struggle. You need to figure it all out, plan your moves, do your research. And when that perfect component comes up for auction, there's happiness when bidding on - and winning! - the piece. You've beaten everybody else. Even then, the penalty for failure is high; if you get a bad component or one not synchronistic with the rest of your system, you've failed! You lose!
But when it all comes together, when men have fought and clawed to create that perfect system, you can kick back and relax into the results, being drawn to another place, even disembodied sometimes, draining into the freedom of, well, "release" into the sound. You sit, motionless, silent, witnessing, listening, free...
Until you begin to think that maybe a new power cord would improve things slightly.
Your woman, in the meantime, will make the phone calls, go shopping with friends, eat chocolate, try to get your attention (!), or, if she's still in the room, she'll likely want to dance and move to the music rather than just sitting and listening.
Everyone's different, of course, and these are just sweeping generalities, but I've found them to be true. Understanding the inherent differences makes things a lot more tolerable... it reduces confusion.
Often it's the setting that women dislike. There is nothing feminine about audio gear, showrooms (including Audiogon) or salespeople. Furthermore, women are tactile. If they can't touch something, it's less than friendly.
The women I know make lots money. They like to spend lots of money. And they like toys as much as men do. Car companies figured this out years ago and therefore changed the amenities and textures of their products; they changed their marketing; they changed the layout and decor of their showrooms, and they changed their sales approach to women as active buyers.
I think that women DO hear better and that is part of the difference. They immediately hear how sad our systems are, no matter how much we've spent on silly cables, monstrous speakers and glowing tubes. They hear the intermodulation distortion going on when our speakers fight each other. They're amazed that we put up with such grossly flawed systems and quite kindly just stay out of the whole thing.
Oh, the other thing is they don't want to screw up the decor. They would be horribly mortified to have the coffee group over and admit that they spoiled the decor themselves. The men have made them believe that you can't have good looks AND good sound, so they don't want to even begin a search.
Sweetmamma31, thanks for your response. Although I appreciated the new (to me) facts in Albert Porter's post, yours is the only one I can find so far which actually responded directly to the question in the OP's title.
Women are smarter, women don't think like men, women would rather talk on the phone, they have better ears and would rather shop for shoes... these and other generalizations, no matter how gallant, are doing just what you say: not taking women audiophiles seriously. I have tossed them around myself.
I don't know what I would do if I wanted to set up an audio dealership the way Calbrs03 describes a female-oriented car dealer. Except for maybe one obvious thing: I wouldn't spend a lot of energy creating an audio forum. Apparently, women don't have a great desire to schmooze about the gear.
I could be wrong, though. There's no way to know, because as it is, audio forums are online men's clubs. Maybe women realize the therapeutic function of this kind of thing for the masculine identity, and stay away out of kindness?
Is it any wonder?? Sweetmamma31 responds and the rest of the guys(for the most part) continue on as if there were no women present.
Sweetmamma-sorry to hear of your purchasing experience,but in the end its' the customers' money that gets the respect.This might actually play in your favor,smile and act sweet>>then hit them up for a great discount.There's no better place to play "hard ball".
Happy Listening and Happy Holidays to All.
I propose a semi-scientific investigation which may lead to some insight. Perhaps there is a personality profile associated with being an audiophile, and perhaps the profile is prevalent in men and rare in women. I hereby propose the following informal survey. Each responder should answer for him- or herself and pose the same inquiries to his or her spouse or significant other -- and for that matter, anyone else you care to survey (the more the better):
1. Do you consider yourself an audiophile? (audiophile or non-audiophile)
2. Are you a man or woman? (man or woman)
3. Would you describe yourself as a thinker or a feeler? (thinker or feeler)
4. Would you describe yourself as an extrovert or an introvert? (extrovert or introvert)
5. Are you more interested in things or people? (things or people)
6. If offered the choice at no cost to you between a concert of your favorite musical ensemble exclusively performing for you and any others you choose to invite, or a world-class playback system, yours to keep forever, which would you choose, assuming the market value of each is identical? (concert or system)
Here is my response in the format I'd recommend for easy analysis:
Here is my wife's:
There may be other questions that should be added. Feel free to expand, and please post your results. Perhaps we'll uncover something informative.
I'm a woman and consider myself an audiophile and Ive also also wondered why there are seemingly not more of us. I think there is probably no simple answer. We probably do care more about how the house looks but I have trios i actually like their looks. I think the fact that almost all the people on audio related forums probably does discourage more women from participating so the lack of women on these forums becomes a little self perpetuating but most of the people ive dealt with here have been great and helpful. I also think that women who get into this hobby might like to talk more about music then the gear ( Kind of like wine i'd rather drink it then talk about but some oy my guy friends seem to like the wine patter more). I find I'm more likely to respond to the music posts. But that being said I've often not understood how if you love music you can avoid investing at least some effort and money ( assuming some disposable cash) in this hobby.
Liking music and being an audiophile are not necessarily the same thing. Of course, women like music just like men. It's the "techie" side of the hobby that they are not attracted to. And this is an important part of the hobby for many men. Many women aren't interested in it for the same reason that they are not interested in car mechanics, plumbing or engineering. It's a broader societal issue involving related topics such as occupational and gender stereotyping which is taught from infancy. Then throw in a little bit of genetic hard wiring, although the extent and the way this modifies things is unknown. There are not a lot of female audiophiles for the same reason that there are not a lot of male secretaries. And by the way, when was the last time you guys bought a pink outfit for your baby boy or enrolled him in ballet class?
In all my 150+ dealings here on the gon - I had only one (1) woman call me & she wound up buying (a local pick up) my Wilson Audio Watt Puppy 6's about 3 years ago.
I do consider my wife a "audiophillette" as she really loves the sound of my 2 channel rig, but prefers our HT set up as she & the rest of the world are not allowed to touch my personal system.
I think it must be genetic, with the allele on the sex defining chromosone. It is likely the loss of a suppresor protein which exists as a homozygote in the XX female vs. the Male XY. It is obviously only expressed if homozygote. This being entirely speculative and therefore it could in fact be the inverse i.e. the gene is a promoter that must be on the Y chromosone.
In my case it is probably simply doing what my Father did.
My sister and wife are very talented musicians. Both listen to music but don't care about the equipment other than WAF. My wife listens to my secondary rig which is in my living room fairly frequently but at 60 db. She usually gets P.O.ed with my 80 +/- Db volume preference.
Back to the car dealerships - women cite hating the entire car dealership experience. It's the biggest problem the car mfgrs have since guess what, women influence/decide almost all high ticket family decisions... and also have plenty of discretionary income of their own.
It may also be that guys get their own money to spend as they want and comes time to buy audio they don't want to go through the whole process with their mate. In other words they only want approval and admiration after the purchase.
It may be (as in my case) that my mate could care less about the technology (though she is very technical) and only cares about the music.
Finally I think it is a lot easier for a retail sales guy to pressure a guy then a woman or a couple... A guy is wired to believe in snake oil and gold mines and let's face it is more likely to buy the bridge...
"Your woman, in the meantime, will make the phone calls, go shopping with friends, eat chocolate, try to get your attention (!), or, if she's still in the room, she'll likely want to dance and move to the music rather than just sitting and listening."
"Women collect shoes and your $$$ :) !!!!!"
I'm sure that if the 2 men who wrote the above responses knew how shallow and misogynist there remarks are, they'de say I was being too sensitive.
I am female, and an audiophile. I love chocolate (the good dark stuff only please). Shoes? I'm a sucker for them, just like I am for a good power cord. Oh, and I went shopping for a leather jacket the other day. What a rush that was!! And what a beautiful jacket it is.
Why aren't there more female audiophiles? I coulnd't say.
As for Pzuckerman' survey. Opposites attract.
Oh, and sometimes I do get up from my sweet spot and dance to the music.
My wife says:
"Women are more into the emotional realm, the source doesn't matter as much as the content. The sound quality is not as important as the music itself. Changing cables and playing with "lego" like you guys like to do, doesn't turn women on. In this regard, women tend to be more passive when it comes to music and when they happen to hear something they like, the playback quality is not the first thing they think about."
Nice one, Stevecham. Thanks to you and your wife. Makes the M-F pairing seem very appropriate. More active male swaps power cord, more passive wife appreciates artistic result; the world is a better place.
One could go on with such a scenario. Emotionally-oriented wife is willing to praise power cord swapper, icing the cake with mild incredulity ("It's different. What did you do? You did _what_?") for the emotional result. Lego-oriented husband is proud of having made world a better place through electricity. Voila : emotional payoff through power cord swapping.
Shoes who needs stinkin shoes. The fact is that audio can be bought like shoes. The woman in this case need only wait until shoes go on sale as though we aren't all aware that a lot of demos aren't sold after the "show".
They do not even have to know these things. They only need to wait for a "sale, clearance etc." to get a discount on audio. They just don't care. It is not the bargaining. BTW how many ads do you see these days that simply say the price is fair (not really but that is fodder for a different thread) and firm. Further there was a well read thread espousing- any offer lower than the asking price- to be low-balling. No my fellows this is purely a matter of giving a hoot.
Shoes are important..... to them. They invariably buy them with the excuse that it was marked down and goes perfectly with some outfit. The outfit lives it's limited fashion lifespan that seems to change faster than the shoes wear out and thus the accumulation of endless pairs of shoes. Absolutely no accumulated shoe is right for the au currant (a type of berry) fashions. Unfortunately even with the use of a potent toxin there just is no shoe-diogon. That change in fashion is imperceptable to me and I wear "business attire" for my field, which isn't dramatically different than a generation back.
It is though and women are probably wondering what was wrong with the last cartridge, component, you had. Going all the way back to when she heard an early iteration.
I'd say Stevecham is onto something with the lego vs result. My wife can instantly tune out when I'm on a rant about interconnects. She will listen to music with me for hours, get emotional with Shostakovich, and notice "somethings wrong" when there's a bad pressing or recording mistake. Is she an audiophile, yes. A gear junkie, absolutley not.
During my years in high end audio, my demographics mirrored what has been said here. Clearly my customer base was 99 percent white male caucasan basically (WASP). I had two afro american customers, one hispanic, one asian and two women. I had often wondered how a business such as high end audio could attract a more diverse audience, but could never come up with a solution and here it is some 26 years later and it appears the rut is still in place.
When it came to buying Records, Tapes, didn't have CD in those days the numbers were vastly different. So the interest in music is quite universal, but the gear only appeals to the WASPs among us. This is indeed a strange phenonomen. A large buying audience with disposable income, that does not buy high end gear, but buys the music.
The two women that bought the gear, were musicians with a large local symphony orchestra as well as chamber ensemble.
If anyone can find the keys to this kingdom, it is instant overnight success. As far as my wife is concerned she has always heard good systems, but with her as well it is the music that interest her and not the gear. She can't explain it to me why that is.
This is an excellent topic and one that bugs me a great deal too. I believe single women living on their own would be more prone to be interested in a good system and seek advice. Some years back in the 80's/maybe early 90's, my wife and I had a single female friend living on her own seeking her PhD in anthropology. She loved music and asked me to go with her to a high end audio store. I did and she purchased a Rotel receiver and a pair bookshelf speakers (I can't recall the brand). BTW, her name is Elizabeth. Coincidence?
I'm a female audiophile too and have engaged in the kind of gear swapping/upgrading typical of males in the hobby. I've slowed down a bit in that department because I finally know what I like and have found gear that works for me. A crucial fact for me is that I am single and only my old Ma lives with me. She sometimes complains if I play the system in the living room too loud but otherwise doesn't interfere, so I don't really have to answer to anyone about what I buy and where I put it, unlike most of the men on this forum. So I have a great deal of freedom and have made great use of it! I have been in the hobby since I was 13 with my first record player, purchased from the PX of my family's army post home at the time. It's 42 yrs later and I have never stopped collecting music and trying to make the best sound possible in my home system(s). Over the years I have often asked why on earth I am so obsessed with getting the sound right (to me--my tastes differ from many in that I don't like harsh, bright, etched, overly detailed sound). Like a previous poster, the closest I have come to the truth, for me, in answering this question is the idea of creating this virtual world under my control--literally with a remote or the volume knob or a power conditioner etc. It's fun to make changes in this world, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse so I have to change again. I have definitely overspent my budget many times and know enough now about what I like that I could have saved myself many $$$ had I known 20 yrs ago what I know now about what sounds good and works well together. But all that took trial and error, which is of course expensive. My female friends agree my music sounds fantastic but none of them have been interested in spending the kind of money I have on equipment. I do NOT have hobbies like buying shoes, clothes, dining in expensive restaurants, buying expensive cars, or other things others spend their money on. I do buy a lot of music still (not downloaded, sounds like crap) and read music reviews in mags etc. Most of my friends' musical tastes stopped developing after college. They got interested in other things, and many raised families so that's a huge distraction from this time-consuming, expensive hobby! I'd like to know how the other 3 or 4 female audiophiles on this site got into the hobby and got familiar with the gear they've ended up with. In my case, I didn't learn from a brother or father, I just came up with the craving myself! And my two younger brothers got influenced by ME, they consult me for all things stereo-related to this day. I recently helped David assemble a fantastic system from Audigon to put in a new dedicated room he was able to nab in his new house. I had experience with all the pieces I found for him on the 'Gon and once he got them all up and running he is thrilled with the sound! FWIW I located for him: Electrocompaniet ECD-1 upsampling CD player, ARC VT100 MkI power amp, BAT VK3i preamp, and LAT International cables. He already had my old Spendor BC-3 speakers and stands but needed to replace his old Adcom stuff.
Hdomke...I don't think anybody is speaking in absolutes. Albert was speaking in general terms and there are many exceptions to the "rule". Thus the phrase "women are less likely to..." However, it is scientific fact that men and women have different brain chemistry and construction, along with general differences in physiology.
I've only known two female audiophiles in 30 years, and, as in Ferrari's experience, both were real musicians. I've also noticed in 38 years of buying jazz albums that there are almost never any women in the jazz section. (Of course, I haven't been to a record stores in months and only go a couple times a year now.) My sister-in-law pretended for a few years to be "really into jazz" but had never heard of Miles, Coltrane, Parker, Monk, Blakey, Mingus, Rollins, etc.
I am not talking about vocalist now, but instrumentalist women in jazz, and with the exception of Mary Lou Williams, Marian McPhartland and newcomer Mindi Abair, there remains very few women in jazz, that can relate to other women. Perhaps this is part of the problem why women do not shop for jazz such as men do. There just isn't many role models for them to choose from. I would dare say ask any woman shopping today online or in a record store do they know Marian McPhartland or Mary Lou Williams, I think you will get a blank stare.