I am a female engineer but as a woman, I have often been told by men that to be constantly reminded that I’m pretty and sexy by strangers who pass by me should be considered a compliment. No matter how many accomplishments I have, it’s a shame that my value would always be measured by the way I look. For a woman with big dreams and the motivation to succeed, the 21st century is still a tough time for me and the rest of the women who walk this planet.
I’ve been an engineer for the past three years now. While I was lucky enough to attend an engineering school that embraced the idea that women can be engineers (and even be better than men in the field), things were quite different when I started working after graduation.
When people ask me what degree I took in college, I would often hear questions like, “Oh there are women in engineering?” or “Do you think women have a place in engineering?” As much as I would like to point out to these people that they ask such sexist questions, I often keep my cool and tell them politely that yes, women in engineering do exist. It gets worse though.
When I started working as a production engineer, I had to work mostly with men. While some of them were nice, I have often been asked by some of our maintenance workers if I was single and if I wanted to go out on dates. Some would often see me just as a woman and not someone who manages their team. Nope, that’s not how it works in some companies apparently. There were even times when I would receive messages from other men in the company, asking me if I needed “a man”. I was disgusted at how women are seen at work sometimes.
Not to mention that some of my male superiors often prefer to assign challenging cases to my male peers instead of giving it to me or the other women I work with. Clearly they think that women can’t get the job right.
While some of you who are reading this think that I should quit instead of ranting this letter, nope, not going to listen to you. I have often been told to quit my job for the alarming case of misogyny that exists in our company. But I believe that I can fight it. If some women back down from it, I won’t.
There’s so much gender discrimination going on in STEM that somehow I know I could start making a change in this scenario. I can choose to stay silent or I can choose to voice out my opinion. I choose to be heard as a woman in engineering who is capable of getting the work done and work with men.
Everyday, I make an effort to be seen as an engineer, not just a woman. I want the people I work with know that what I can contribute to the company can be important. I don’t want to be seen as just an eye candy for the men in the workplace, no! I don’t want them to ask me out on dates. I want them to ask me how we can make the production methods and management better. I want to be treated as an equal at work so I speak up and I find ways to let the people I work with know what I am not okay with at work.
I am sure I am not the only woman in engineering who had to face these problems. it gets harder before it gets easier so here’s what I want you to know: we have to work together. We have to support each other and no matter how hard it is, know that we are not alone in this misogynistic world. It’s time we put a stop to the sexism that exists in the STEM world. We fight the misogyny. We do our work and we fight together.