Friday, June 13, 2014


In 2013, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of women in an engineering occupation was 14 percent.

Other low female to male ratio jobs included: construction occupations - 3%, engineering managers - 10%, cost estimators - 11%, maintenance related occupations - 4%, and there were a handful more. Even clergy came in with a higher female ratio than engineering at a whopping 16%.

Anyways, there is certainly a stamina amongst women in positions similar to mine. I often get into conversations with other women about entering male-dominated jobs or activities. I recently had a female friend talk about her experiences working in a male-dominated field and her shock about the difficulty doing so. I'm not sure I can explain it since even when we talk about it, we say, "....since I work with mostly men....well you know what I mean....".

When you work with a lot of men, you get a certain......tough skin, understanding, tolerance, perspective.

I remember going to an admission fair the year before I started college and being told the female to male ratio at MSOE was about 1:5. Everyone seemed worried for me, but I was excited. Out of the 4 years I was in school, I think I run out of fingers counting how many classes where I was the only female. It was an extremely rare occurrence to have more than one woman in the elevator at a time, so much so to the point of people pointing it out when it happened. Where professors would have to correct themselves "......okay guys, turn to the next page......oh and lady..." I worked in the bookstore for a couple years and more than once had an older male alumni come in and say; "Do girls go here now? When I went here, it was all male."

Anyways, it didn't take too long for me to realize I had two options; 1- let the dominance discourage me or 2- take advantage of it. Apart from my intelligence being questioned every step of the way because of my chromosomes, being part of the minority had it's benefits. I got doors held for me daily (which after a year became quite the annoyance) and because many people seemed to have low expectations for me, it was easier to prove them wrong or get help when needed.

I suppose I could write a book about my experiences at college, especially correlated with being a female, but I am now out of college and still face many of the same battles.

The blank stares and jaw dropping expressions I receive when I tell new acquaintances I'm an engineer would astound you. It both annoys me and gives me pride. I've been commended as well as what would probably be considered verbally assaulted. I have learned a lot about responding to all of these reactions.

I'm not sure what the point of my story is here. If going through what I have/am was easy, every woman would do it, however, if I can do it, I believe so can a lot of other women.

As Geraldine Doyle showed the world, We Can Do It! :-D

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