Monday, August 30, 2010

Do Men and Women Relate to Office Supplies Differently?

Recently, there was a post over at The Art of Manliness blog entitled "The Manly Tradition of the Pocket Notebook."  This post has been linked to in a variety of places, which is how I stumbled across it.  Now, I love pocket notebooks (all notebooks, really) and, despite the fact that I am a woman, I found the post interesting, well-written, and well-researched.  Yet a number of questions began to arise in my mind.

Is a man's notebook different in some way from a woman's notebook?  I can see that, historically, there may have been, since society dictated different roles for men and women, and their different experiences may have required the keeping of different types of notebooks.  But what about today?  Do women and men use and collect notebooks, pens, pencils, and other office supplies differently?

Many companies have produced versions of their products that are targeted specifically at women, which I think is ridiculous.  If something is pink and has floral designs on it, then I will be less likely to buy it, not more.  There do not seem to be similar products targeted specifically towards men.

The practice of keeping an art journal seems to be more popular among women than men, but I could be wrong here.  Perhaps there are many men doing a similar thing but they just do not talk about it as much, or they call it something else.

What are your thoughts on these issues?  Do men and women relate to office supplies differently?


  1. Great post! I read that article, too. Women, for the most part, still carry a form of purse so our notebooks may be of a different size. That's about it, I think.

    I agree on the pink/floral issue. I tend to go with solid black accessories. I don't want to appear as anything but serious & business oriented. I cringe at the overthetop bags and accessories some women carry.

    My husband is a visual poet and keeps a beautiful art journal. But, he's the only one I know who does.

  2. Thanks, Joni. I actually don't carry a purse, but I do like the colours I choose to convey a more serious appearance (usually, anyway). I defintely know what you mean by the "overthetop" accessories that some use; they make me cringe as well!

  3. Heather, I'm in my 50s, a semi-retired tech writer and ad salesman, and I'm still looking for the perfect pocket notebook. By "pocket", I mean the pocket of a summer-weight shirt, and I want room for a few pens, mechanical pencils, stick erasers, and so on.

    I came close. There used to be something called the Wilson Buddy Jr. A thin, flexible, tough, faux croc notebook cover for moisture- and dirt-resistance. By "tough", I mean the plastic resisted splitting and discoloration even after abuse. Maybe around 3" X 5" or very slightly smaller w/ rounded corners that avoided dog-earing. The notebook insert was a stapled pad of around 28-32 perforated leaves for thinness, either ruled or plain. I've yet to find a good replacement, although the Rhodia and Alvin pads I've been using are pretty good, and their just-under-3" X 5" dimensions make for good pocketability. Moleskine has something around 2 1/2" X 4" (Volant?) that I've been experimenting with.

    I don't need a lot of paper in a pocket notebook. Enough to jot down a few hurriedly thought-up ideas, or a list, or a message. Jack/Youngstown

  4. Jack, the best notebooks that I can think of for you are the Rhodia pads, which it sounds as though you are already using. You can get covers for the pads (such as those shown here:, which you might like to consider for added durability. I haven't tried these covers myself, but they do look nice.

  5. Heather, you're right, I've been using the Rhodia No. 11 and the Alvin ALG 11. Alvin products may be an acquired taste for some folks, because they're not that common, and I'll buy mine through a local drafting and surveying equipment shop. I like the few products I buy, and Alvin has a pretty extensive Web site. Jack/Youngstown

  6. I haven't tried any Alvin products, but you've made me curious about them, Jack. I think I'll keep an eye out for them in the future.

  7. hmm- being not the girly girl type, sometimes I get stuff for my pen and notebook collection that are definitely more suited for a guy- because they are bigger, or the form factor is just more of a guy thing. just bought the Noodler's Ink fountain pen in brown- a thing of beauty for sure, but I see it more for a man. And also unless they carry a messenger bag, or a briefcase, they can't carry that many things around. So yeah, I can understand it.

  8. Pfft, what an insult. I'm a woman and I LOVE pocket notebooks. I am awash in pocket notebooks. I buy all sorts, and even bind my own. I use them for everything, and my biggest problem is I have so many different ones that it takes forever to finish one up! For one thing, they fit in my purse! D'oh.

  9. Sarah, I know what you mean about it taking forever to finish one notebook because you have so many :) I have the same problem myself...and the number of notebooks I own just seems to continue to grow!


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