My head hurts. I was doing some research today about the growing demand for STEM jobs (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), and I couldn’t believe the bad writing.
It’s a fallacy that only writers need to be proficient in correct grammar and sentence construction. No matter what industry you’re in, or what job you hold, you need basic writing skills to communicate your ideas to internal and external audiences.
What Did You Say?
How could an organization publish this content on their website?
Meeting the Challenge for STEM Gender Diversity project seeks to develop an Institutional Policy Matrix, supported by an analytic rubric, for collecting and cataloguing evidence-based family-friendly policies and practices that support STEM faculty career-life solutions.
Once fully developed, these instruments will empower four-year colleges and universities to qualitatively and quantitatively self-assess their workplace environments as a function of institutionalization, inclusivity, and culture. By focusing on policies and practices that support career-life solutions, the Gender Values project aims to set in motion the adjustments to institutional policies, procedures, and processes that result in the alignment of institutional missions of gender equity in STEM fields with federal agency efforts.
Through its attention to institutional purpose and faculty gender equity, this STEM initiative is integrally connected to all of these tenets of higher education reform, and is expected to build capacity in higher education toward achieving this goal.
Don’t be concerned if you got lost half way through. I read it more than once and darned if I can understand what it says. I guess the writer never learned to write a simple sentence. I broke the dense copy into paragraphs. Imagine reading it all as one chunk.
It’s Getting Worse
The problem of poor writing isn’t new and it’s getting worse. High school and college graduates enter the workforce and can’t write a sentence with a subject, verb and object. Studies supposedly show that teaching grammar to students doesn’t work.
I’m not sure I believe that.
Diagramming helps to understand where nouns, pronouns, verbs, prepositions and adjectives belong in a sentence.
I can still remember as a kid standing at the blackboard (yes, not a whiteboard) and diagramming sentences. I know it helped me immeasurably in learning how to construct a sentence.
Thanks to WikiHow for this diagram and explanation.
Let’s Get Back to Basics
Scholars on the subject of writing say that studying grammar doesn’t work because students get bored. Who said school is supposed to be a laugh riot all the time? Learning can be difficult and often tedious. Why do we let kids give up if they get bored and allow them to sneak peeks at their Facebook timeline?
When I held senior communications positions at agencies and companies, I interviewed many job candidates. Their writing skills, for the most part, were abysmal. A good friend, who was a managing director at a global PR agency, spent half his day re-writing press releases for young professionals. Dear reader, writing is the most important skill for PR people.
On bad writing, author Chila Woychik writes, “When reading a book, one hopes it doesn’t turn into a painful process…But with painfully bad writing, all one can do is grab a hatchet, slice off its head, and bury it.”
Amen to that.