I kid you not these were the things hanging around on my desk right now. Not too many people out there with a candle, hammer, paintbrush, pliers, and some half made jewellery all together on their desk
With being a female engineer I get some very interesting questions and comments. Some of them are annoying and get me riled up but in the end they honestly are downright funny.
I guess it comes with having varied interests. Another example, other than my desk, was when my friend got me a gift that was a beautiful dress and a shirt that has the Muppet scientists on it and says, “because science.” Weird combination for some? Maybe. But for me I absolutely loved both.
Having varied interests leads me to have some very interesting conversations. So here goes. If you ever wondered what it was like being a female engineer in a male dominated field I think these conversation sum it up well.
“For an engineer you have good social skills”
After meeting some new guys to help with an open house at my company and us talking to people all day long one of the guys casually said this to me as if they were surprised that engineers could actually be friendly, social beings. I must have been the exception to the rule in their heads. All I could say was, “um thanks?”
I’ve also gotten the variation…
“Most engineers won’t be able to do that insert any communication thing, but don’t worry we aren’t talking about you.”
This isn’t even a female problem. There is such a strong stereotype that engineers cannot for the life of them explain or write anything. I swear I got hired for my job because I said that I enjoy communicating and presenting.
“Are you supposed to be in this meeting?”
When I walked into a meeting full of guys and the guy who invited me to join the team wasn’t there yet. Sure, maybe it was just cause they didn’t know me but I’m sure if I was a guy it would be less likely to happen.
“Hi, my name is this and here is my business card. It was really nice meeting you at that networking event. If you ever need something we should meet up sometime.”
The number of times I’ve gotten hit on at networking events I have lost count of. It is so annoying. I feel like I can’t talk or be friendly because they will automatically think I’m flirting. And yeah sure this sounds innocent but this is after the guy showed specifically me at a table full of guys where his number was and then only sent out this email to me, not anyone else at the networking event. I know, it’s not rude or anything but it is exhausting that I feel like I have to constantly avoid getting hit on when I’m just trying to make connections. I’ve been asked out to a work lunch which turned out to be a date in his mind. I’ve told guys I have a boyfriend just to watch them continue hitting on me. I’ve walked past smoking areas and had guys stare and continue staring even when I turn to look at them staring. I’ve had guys follow me around at networking events and the list goes on. I get it, you don’t meet too many girls in your field but geez let women network without feeling like they have to avoid you because they can’t be friendly without leading you on.
“Hi, are you the secretary?”
You would think this doesn’t happen anymore but it does. I was working on something with my friend and a random guy came by and asked me if I was the secretary just because I was female and in the general vicinity of the secretaries desk and she wasn’t there. That’s all it took.
“Can you make the presentation more fun? because I’m not sure if the girls will be interested in drones.”
I was helping make a presentation for a girl guides event and this one annoyed me. I responded to him by giving him a dirty look and saying, “Why not? I’m interested in drones.” Because honestly, who is not interested in drones?! Thankfully, he was a nice guy and back pedaled really quickly. From now on he is a little more careful how he talks about girls and has corrected himself the odd time when I’m around and he’s going to say something semi sexist. I know tons of people would think this is no big deal, but if we allow everyone to talk about women as though they are just slightly stupid when it comes to everything to do with math and science it creates a culture. A culture where your daughters don’t go into STEM because they shouldn’t be interested.
All in all I just wanted to shed some light on the little things that people say that can get annoying. Like I said, think about the culture you are creating before you speak. Sometimes the innocent little things hurt too. I’m definitely lucky I haven’t had worse experiences but when there is still a pay gap and women getting stalked and sexually abused there is still a problem. Even though you may think these little things you say don’t contribute to the big problem, they do. They contribute to the culture that women are less that is the core of the problem.