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On which I rant with my ladybrain

February 24, 2011

My colleague over at Engineer Blogs wrote a great post on women in engineering. This is one of those cases where the internet both nurtures me and discourages me. It's nice to know there are dudes out there who respect me as a colleague and engineer first. It's nice to know there are guys who think society is largely responsible for the different career tracts men and women take. Before I graduated college I worked in the health care industry part time. And I really had no idea that there were still men out there who felt women were any less capable or intelligent.
 
But then I met so many excellent women on the internet who had the same experiences I did it was pure joy not to feel so alone. So this is just another rant about all the bullsh#$ floating around on the net and in my life and if you don't like it you don't have to read it.
 
The dudes on the reddit comments for Fluxor's article talk a lot about how women get all the jobs. That there are all these "big companies" out there who have to hire women to fill their diversity quota. Where are these companies? Perhaps someone could point me in the right direction? I'm job hunting in engineering with significantly more real world experience than my peers while applying for the same level of jobs. And yet, no bites so far. It would be interesting to know how many of my peers have job offers and whether that's overwhelmingly in favor of the perhaps 15-20% of women. But I can rant on what I do know.
 
In the last n+3 years my department went from having 0 female engineers to then 2, then it lost one, hired another one to bring it back up to 2, lost one, and hired back the one who left initially to push us back up to 2. In recent days we've swarmed to a whopping 4, three of whom are young early 20s and the other perhaps late 30s early 40s. These 4 people make up approximately 4.8% of the department's engineers. That's well below the national average of female mechanical engineers being something closer to 10%. One supervisor once told me until he hired his first female engineer that was the first resume he'd ever received from a woman. I don't know if that's true or not. With, as I said before, 15-20% of the engineers at my school being female one has to wonder why they either wouldn't be applying or would be getting screened out of even entry level positions.
 
And check this sh@# out, female engineers still earn less than their male counterparts. Glassdoor looked at female and male salaries based on years of experience alone. Looking at the bottom end you wouldn't expect "choices" about childrearing to have any affect on this. And yet, women compared with equally qualified men in the 0-3 years of experience range earn 97% the salary of their male colleages. Once you get into the 4-6 year experience category that gap widens to women earning 91%. Now I'd like to make some conclusions based on the women I know in the workforce but unlike the commenters on reddit, or many of my colleagues, I prefer not to draw conclusions from 4-5 people. When I've known perhaps several hundred engineers where 4-5 of whom are women it would be pretty idiotic to draw conclusions about their capabilities "as women" their relative ease or difficulty in career advancement or ridiculously unrelated things like their perceived level of attractiveness. I'll end this post with some quotes heard in the workplace and in all cases said to my face (not "shop talk" or "locker room talk").
 
Why isn't this organized? You should organize this, women are supposed to be good at organizing.
 
Could you go over to the shop and bat your eyelashes and make friends so we can get these parts done?
 
Did you know that so-and-so slept with her boss to get her job? She also slept with DudeA and DudeB. (All not true, but all none of his business regardless)
 
Well I had to give DudeX a raise, he has a family to support.
 
Who do you think is good for this role? Oh? Why would I promote her, she's preganant, right? So we're just going to lose her anyways. No, we'll find someone else. (She came back after the pregnancy and still works there).
 
What? That applicant didn't tell me she'd just had a kid. Can't believe she hid that one this whole time through the whole interview process.
 
I'm not sure why we're hiring another woman.
 
Stop disagreeing with me on this (engineering related discussion) I get enough backtalk at home.
 
Oh I see you're dressed like a lady today, that's a change. (wore a skirt, my bad)
 
Why are you working while in school, aren't you married?
 
And much, much more! Here's to me getting a job elsewhere as at the very least I'll have access to more data. And more data is always better.
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12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 24, 2011 1:06 am

    I was once told I would be good at soldering because "women have better fine motor skills than men". There were eight people in the room…most of whom apologized for the jerk's behavior afterward (which was nice).

  2. February 24, 2011 1:42 am

    Gah! I hate reading these comments from these stupid people!All I can continue to think is that women in engineering are the perfect storm for the stereotypical engineer guy. Here's all I can come up with for why in the world someone would think this way.1. "THERE'S A GIRL IN THE ROOM!"2. "I MUST PROVE I'M SMART. I KNOW, I'LL PUT HER DOWN."That's all I've got. I can't imagine it comes down to anything more than severe insecurity and frustration. I want to believe these people aren't misogynistic, but it's hard to tell. Would be an interesting experiment to get them all in a room and see if they have the same opinions or if they are just emboldened by the internet.Again, in reaction to these people, I must emphasize: GAH. We're not all like this.

  3. February 24, 2011 1:47 am

    I was told recently that "women get recruited for science positions" and let me remind you, that I AM THE ONLY WOMAN WITH A PHD IN THIS SHITHOLE. I threw my hands in the air and said "THEN WHERE ARE THEY? I COUNT WHITE DUDE, WHITE DUDE, WHITE DUDE, WHITE DUDE, and WHITE DUDE! I'M A SCIENTIST, I CAN ACTUALLY ADD. THERE'S FIVE WHITE DUDES. WHERE ARE THESE MAGICAL MYSTICAL RECRUITED NON-WHITE-MALE BEINGS?" *crickets* *blank stare* *feet staring* I walked out. I can't process any more shit spew from delusional asshats. Hence, the reason why THIS woman is packing up her office. Dudes = 5, Women = 0.I also recently heard "well, we just hired A Woman" at a conference during a conversation about diversity. It was said very grudgingly by someone I used to respect. DING DING DING, give the asshat a medal for tolerating the hiring of A Woman! He won't be happy if it happens again! That Woman must have gotten past his gate-keeping sensors! My boss told me that family issues are not taken into account for hiring, in the context that pregnant women would not be discriminated against (because that discrimination shit only happens on another planet far far away in a distant galaxy). I shit you not, days later, he went on about hiring ANOTHER FUCKING WHITE DUDE because the dude "has a family, his wife loves her job, and he has a house in town" and I wanted to nuke something. NO, FAMILY ISSUES DO *NOT* IMPACT HIRING AT. ALL.!!! WHEN IT'S A DUDE!!!!!! Another nail in the coffin. My head is still reeling over this one. He hired him. jc

  4. February 24, 2011 3:25 am

    OMFG… These made me cry a little inside. My "favorite" is Stop disagreeing with me on this (engineering related discussion) I get enough backtalk at home. You are obviously not an engineer, just another female pest whose blabber he has to endure. And he doesn't even get the benefits of hot meals and sex in return for having to put up with you! Poor guy.

  5. February 24, 2011 7:59 am

    I second Chris's sentiment.

  6. February 24, 2011 3:24 pm

    Oh, hell. I'm just so sick of this argument. Really, they really think females are advocating for preferential hiring? They really think if they don't see discrimination, it's not there? They really think that you must score within the top 1% of the SAT to be a successful engineer? That the only required skill is spatial 3D rotation in the head? They really think the tiny tiny differences shown in the intelligence tests account for the 90/10 ratios I normally see? 90/10 if you're lucky. In my society's annual meeting, it's more like 98/2. Good Luck with your job hunt, FrauTech. Chin up, all that jazz. Don't let the idiots get you down.

  7. February 24, 2011 4:10 pm

    Thanks everyone, nice to know I am not alone!Chris- I think you are right in that sometimes it is those people who like to say stuff to get under people's skin so I think they almost do it purposefully because I am there.jc- I know, right? Like wth are they if it's such a burden?GMP- xactly!Kate- I know that argument doesn't really hold water anymore when I'm guessing most engineers near the average point.

  8. February 25, 2011 3:46 am

    oh, the second to last got me at my last (latest?) talk. I wore a skirt for the first time in my place, "oh, what womanly you can look. all grown up ladylike" …. ehh… well… mention anything about my awesome data? no? And for the record, it was a knee lenght skirt so nohing inappropriate. Needless to say, I wonder about wearing a skirt again. duh.Sorry to read FT. I wish you all the best in the job application game. I'm heading that way too – and yeah, not sure if I should write "have no spouse nor children"^ on the top of my application just since I know that it will be one of those "issues". As a woman still being in my childbearing age….. ^of course I won't but it's as much as "of course they will not ask/snoop" … right? considering what you wrote about the promotion/hireing too… GAH.

  9. February 25, 2011 8:28 pm

    I'm so with you on this. I almost unfriended two people this week, including one who was proselytizing to me about Christina Hoff Sommers because she wrote an article supporting the PNAS article claiming that there is no evidence for sexism in academia. Sigh. Sending e-hugs to you all. Thanks for carrying on the ranting. Most days lately I wouldn't even know where to begin, I just feel like I'm repeating myself to no effect, whereas having more witnesses actually strengthens the argument. The more anecdata the better, I say. At some point, our collective writings about these phenomena become bonified personal accounts! Keep up the good work.

  10. February 26, 2011 7:12 pm

    Ah, le sigh. I do not regret getting my degree in aerospace engineering, even though I have been a stay at home mother dealing the health and disability issues with oldest child. I found it quite handy in dealing with the absolutely crazy stuff I have had thrown at me over the past two decades, first by well meanings fools in real life (including the librarian where I went to research my son's condition), to even greater hoards when the Internet came along.My experience of often being the only or one of very few women in my classes, or dealing with old stodgy set in their ways engineers at work has come in quite handy in the last two decades. It gave me the backbone to deal the clueless crap that has been tossed at me. So instead of having to deal with idiotic sexist jokes, I now get to be told I am a danger to children because I don't think vaccines causes my kid's seizures or that I am an evil Big Pharma Shill for not supporting homeopathy or colloidal silver. It short, it has helped me deal with the crap in all forms.My younger son is majoring in engineering, and will hopefully be admitted to the mechanical engineering department next fall. I am also a non-matriculated graduate student there, and I will take an occasional class (my son's reaction was a mock: "Oh, man! I going to go to school with my mom!"). I find it fun, but sometimes the whole taking care of the family falls to the wayside, and my husband is less encouraging when he sees how much energy it takes. I may actually go back to work when hubby retires, or when kid obligation that include a disabled adult son are less.At the present my daughter is not planning on majoring in engineering, even though she is in honors math. She has more of an interest in foreign language, living abroad and international business (though engineering would help there, I am not going to push it).

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