Rocket Science

Published on 24th February, 2010 in Global Bloggers by Amy Jost

blueprints‘Frauen und Technik’, is a German idiom which translates to ‘Women and Technology’ and is said in a sexist way, suggesting women can’t manage technological challenges. My students, all males, mostly engineers, have been known to sigh “Frauen und Technik” to me in class.

So it was with a bit of trepidation I taught a lesson on technology out of Global.

The 7 businessmen in my class work for a natural resources management and engineering firm. There’s a very upbeat CIO (Chief Information Officer) and his nemesis, an engineer, who does his best to keep the class laughing. Add those two entertaining Swiss German pranksters to two Swiss French speakers, both Project Managers, and you already have a potentially explosive group without a loaded topic. Gratefully, there’s an Italian Software Engineer and two additional soft-spoken Swiss German-speakers, a Hardware Engineer and Supplies Buyer, to help keep the peace.

The part of the Switzerland we live and work in is German-speaking, or to be more precise, Swiss German-speaking. Swiss German is a dialect of German, but even many German speakers can’t understand it, at least not initially. With time people who speak German pick it up, in spite of there being no official orthography and very few official study materials available. It’s a spoken language, not a written one. And that’s the mother tongue spoken by the majority of the country. It can be a challenge for us non-locals, which in this class would be 4 out of the 8 of us.

Thankfully our text book is in a “neutral” language, English, and didn’t require us to talk about rocket science, but allowed us to discuss our opinions about modern times and machinery. That presentation, as opposed to needing to know a lot about technology, offered the material in layman terms. It was manageable even for me, the non-techy “Frau”. And we all learned from one another about favorite websites, new telephones, good games, etc. to boot. (no pun intented)

While chatting, we found out that most of us weren’t happy with our printers, although we all had different models, and brands, and different reasons for our dissatisfaction. I think we could’ve spent the entire 90 minutes moaning about those frustrating machines!
When confronted with the question about whether modern technology has made us work harder, not less hard, we all agreed, as well. Despite not being able to live without it, technology hasn’t necessarily made our work all that much easier. What a relief that I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

Not surprisingly the engineers were more comfortable with gadgets and modern technology than I was, however they were also a bit in the dark about some of the latest trends. Staying on top of what’s on the market and what it can do for you can baffle all of us at times.

Next week we’ll talk about something even I know a thing or two about – travel and tourism. Time to get packing!


  • great read, Amy – almost too short!

    Sophsters on 25 February, 2010
  • Hi, Sophie! I’m trying to cut my long-winded style back a bit. Thanks for the compliment, none the less!

    Amy Jost on 27 February, 2010