I am an engineer, irrespective of the number of makeup products I put on my face. Despite being an oestrogen secreting human invading a testosterone wrought domain, I am proudly and loudly feminine. I switch from being a steel capped boot person to a flashy, 3 inch heel person as easily as I switch between my safety goggles and oversized sunnies. By default, I am expected to be nerdy (check), boyish (cross), and as boring as I am brilliant (cross and check! ;)). Such is the invidualism-stifling, stereotype-promoting world as we know it today. American movies dump us all in one of 3 distinct categories– the hot blonde air-head (cheerleader), the gawky, geeky, braced nerd (NEVER cheerleader) and the wimpy, high-pitched in-between sidekick (of cheerleader). Naturally, I brace myself for the brace-toting label from everyone. An engineering degree is too complicated for the cheerleader, and too involving for the sidekick. Only nerds have the time to commit to such ‘serious’ subjects because dating and partying aint taking up THEIR time.
So what’s it like to navigate a woman’s journey in a heavily stereotyped man’s world? Lets find out!
- When you tell people about your profession, it’s like telling them you are a unicorn. An engineer with boobs and redolent of ovaries? Are you for real?
- You want to go to office looking like a classy professional but soon start losing the excitement when you realise it’s overkill. Meh.
- Sometimes the subtlest trace of eyeliner or the palest smack of lip balm can look like warpaint against other fellow engineering women.
- There is a default suspicion about how seriously you take your profession. People stalk your Facebook with ‘wannabe’ and ‘bone fide’ labels. If you are bespectacled, dressed down and have a no-fuss haircut, you will most likely be given the stamp of approval. If, however, you flaunt too much of a social life and post too many pouting selfies, the credibility of your profession WILL be questioned.
- You turn up for field work in the cleanest clothes and squeakiest shoes and stick out like a sore thumb. Your efforts to remain clean are grossly mistaken as your reluctance to get too hands-on.
- Sites facilities are designed with only one gender in mind. Answering nature’s calls will leave permanent commode shaped scars in your soul. Enhanced by a permanent grey-green trail of pungent stink to boot.
- When you travel for work, your bag can be easily distinguished from their male counterparts as the only long-haul travel suitcase in a sea of backpacks. Yes, it’s only a two day trip but you Just. Never. Know.
There is never a dull moment in a lady engineer’s life!