Monday, August 04, 2008

Executive decision

Lately I've made a big change in my professional life.

I work in a male dominated environment. I'm an engineer, it's a fact of life. I actually prefer it that way.

When I started working a female coworker of mine told me that it was a tough department, company, and industry for "us women". She would always complain about the difference in pay scale based on gender for the whole country. She would say that "we women" had to work harder to get the same amount of recognition and opportunity. She would tell me of the importance of looking the part and fitting in.

I was young and inexperienced and didn't know what to think, so I took her advice. I didn't wear a skirt or jewelry to work for 4 years. My cute shoes were pushed to the side of my closet only to be brought out when I was sure that no one from work would ever see me in them and mistake me for a female. I wore muted colors and my black danskos every day.



While infinitely comfortable, these are pretty much the LEAST feminine shoes you can get. Am I right?



But, guess what. She, judging from my experience, was wrong.

Over the past 5 years of working as an engineer my career path has been unparalleled. I have achieved much and I've had some of the luckiest opportunities of anyone my age in the company. I've been supported and treated as an equal. I feel like I've been generously rewarded and recognized for my efforts.

And now that think of it, I'm a little miffed at said lady. If she was still around I would probably march over to her and ask what she was thinking, brainwashing an innocent newbie like that. I'd especially do it today, since I'm wearing this beautiful new dress that the ear doctor got me for my birthday, complete with big gold necklace and open toed shoes.




I'm not foolin anybody today. I am a girl...and a good engineer.

11 comments:

Janssen said...

Good for you!! Great dress!

jani said...

I'll bet it looks fab with your hair... I've always loved green on redheads...
So I'm gonna play devils advocate... who's to say your amazing advancement and opportunities wasn't because of your androgynous attire?
I'm not one to get all caught up that, but...

Katie said...

Jani,

You may have a point.

However, along with the required number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie pop...the world may never know.

CageQueen said...

She should return to the Stone Age, lol.

Lindsay said...

Yay! Love the dress.

But also, as a female engineer, I gotta ask -- how old was this grumpy "pretend you're a man" woman? Because honestly, in the past 9 years, I've only ONCE had anyone make any females-suck type of comment to me. The fact that it only happened one time is still shocking to me - coming out of college, I was warned about the "boy's club" that is aerospace engineering. But I found that not to be the case. Not even when I work with men older than my father. I'm smart (if I do say so myself), and being female doesn't take away from that.

HOWEVER. I've also heard some not-so-great stories from women who are only about 15 years older than me (so from women in their mid-40's). It would be somewhat foolish for me to expect those women to have not been affected by the treatment they received, even if it was years and years ago. And I can definitely see how bad treatment could lead someone to dish out bad advice. It is unfortunate though....

Heather said...

I agree with Lindsay. My dad is a project manager for a group of engineers, and when I was looking into what to study in college he kept telling me I had endless options because there are/were so many fields that are/were desperate to hire females. That was 6 years ago, so things may be balancing out a little, but I doubt they are going back to the pre-80's/women's equality movement.

I am positive that with the world/US as it is now, you can wear your girliest garb to the office and no one would think any less of you. In fact I think it would better show case you and your sparkling personality.

Erin said...

As yet another woman in a man's field (computer programmer) I've actually heard more of things like Heather is saying. My dad works in technology also and has been telling me for years how great a field it is for women right now.

So I definitely think at one point it probably was harder for women in traditionally male fields like this, but I also think that it's the exception to the rule now, instead of just "the way it is."

And also, that dress is completely adorable!

Kylene said...

....and that's one of the reasons I love you, Katie! I don't like negative 'tudes so I especially dislike when anyone who may have had a bad experience then tries to pass it off as fact for everyone else!

Kylene said...

Great dress, BTW! Good job, Ear Doctor! ;)

Anonymous said...

Sooo many greaat comments! Yes, the dress is so YOU!
Grandma jane

Courtney said...

Agree to agree!!! Rock on with your open toed shoes, sista!! :D I'm wearing red pumps today - I feel Hott!