Reading some of the comments about how females are steered away from the technical side of things as youngsters makes me feel as though I must have had a rather odd upbringing. The massive advantage to growing up dirt poor is that you make your own fun.... and making a race track in a barren garden bed for one's matchbox cars, climbing trees and building cubbyhouses out of old fence palings and whatever was lying around was a far more enjoyable (and cheap) form of entertainment than trying to scrounge up money to get a complete tea set for a doll with a missing head! I can't say I ever felt pressured to be "girly". Everything was MacGuyvered when I was a child - from toys to necessities - which means all very hands on and dirty. I like to know both the how and the why of everything so photography is a good fit for me in that respect.
I joined this forum because I LOVE reading about how others overcome obstacles - whether it be setting up lighting scrounged up from common household objects to getting the best print from very old papers (all I have ready access to and all I can really afford.) I can't think of a single time when I've looked at WHO was posting the information and either raised or lowered my estimation of its validity based on the gender of the poster. Quite simply, I'm just grateful that there are so many people here who are so incredibly generous with their time, knowledge and personal experience. THAT is the draw card to APUG for me - the wealth of living knowledge. I've read every book I can get my hands on when I have a question, a concern or a mere curiosity.... but reading books doesn't allow someone to say, "But what if...?" and receive a response. To me this forum is the joy of an interactive library....walking, talking tomes of information who happily open their covers, share their stories and will cheerfully tack an appendix or two to the end of the story if something is still a little unclear.
It's a blessing.... so thank you to ALL of you for being so generous with your time. As has been noted by quite a few people in this thread, everyone's time is precious and prioritised accordingly so it truly is a gift when people choose to spend it here sharing with everyone else.