Friday, June 13, 2014

14%

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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