Tegan posted this video on facebook this morning, so I thought I would take 15 minutes for "professional development" and watch it. I thought it was very good and had some great points.
Being a woman in a male-dominated field most of the time sucks. I am not even going to mince words about it. If I had known how challenging engineering was going to be mostly because I am a woman, I don't know if I would have picked it as a career. Don't get me wrong, I love engineering. I find it interesting to know how the things work and I love being able to understand things. But it is hard being a woman. Here are a few things I have noticed:
1. Men don't shake your hands. They will say hello to you and shake the hands of every man in the room, but they will not shake yours. They almost do like a smile and nod. This tends to make me feel like I am in the room merely as a decoration (which I am because I am pretty :) ) and to take notes. While I may take notes for my mental purposes, I am not the note taker. I have started to remedy the handshake issue by assertively sticking my hand out there so they are forced to shake it.
Half of the time, they give me a soft hand shake. And don't even get me started on the soft hand shake. It is creepy. I liken it to having a stranger whisper to you. I am not a petite flower. I am not saying you have to crush my hand, but I promise your hand shake won't break my hand.
2. Some male engineers won't even look at you. I was at a meeting with a city engineer and the other engineer in my office (a man) discussing a stormwater system that I designed. The other engineer from my office helped with the design, but the issue being discussed at that time was as aspect of the design I had done. The city engineer WOULD NOT LOOK AT ME. I would say something and he would answer back to the other engineer. This was mildly infuriating. And when I say mildly, I mean extremely. The city engineer wasn't even an old guy. You kind of expect that kind of thing from a white-haired engineer (who most likely didn't have a single woman in their engineering class), but not from a guy in his 30s. I still haven't figured out how to remedy that one.
3. When I state my opinion, I am considered a mean person. One might even say a "witch" but change the "w" to a "b". Now, a man states his opinion and he is professional. But I am bossy. Now I am very aware that in the past, I have had my "witch with a b" moments. For to the most part in the last couple of years, I have mellowed. And I should be allowed to state my professional opinion without being considered a female dog (if you catch my drift). To remedy this, I am currently working on what I like to call, "The Stroke and Slap" method of delivery. I got the idea from Phil's cousin Cathy who mentioned that in the South, you can basically insult someone as long as you include "Bless her heart" in part of the sentence. For example, "She smells so bad, bless her heart." Think about it... It works.
Those are just some thoughts I have on being a female engineer. The video is just under 15 minutes long, but if you are or someone you know is a woman, trying to earn her way up the professional ladder, it is definitely worth the watch.
Love, Mrs. Janney