Not Particularly.

The other day I did a bike-run workout with friends and after I was done, Ben came to pick me up. As he drove up and I went over to the car, my friend also headed in that direction to say hello to Ben. As the window rolled down he noticed the hard hat sitting in the front passenger seat that I was about to climb into, and made a remark to Ben about it. Something about that it was cool that he had a hard hat because he must get to do neat stuff at work.
Then I piped up. 

"That's mine."

I've been a girl in a boy's world all my life. My mom used to parade me around in frilly dresses and matching headbands when I was little, but once I hit 5 or so I quickly ditched the bows and went straight for plain tshirts and cutoff jean shorts. I never had any interest in Barbies but I instead spent hours climbing trees and playing street hockey with the boys in my neighborhood. I never took dance classes, but instead I signed up for karate and tee-ball, when I was still too young for there to be an all-girls team so I joined my brother's.

Over the years, I've made it back to my mom's original wardrobe choices. Maybe I haven't quite embraced all things girly, but I'm a lot closer than I was back when I was climbing trees. I like clothes - I wouldn't spend so much time obsessing over my capsule wardrobe if I didn't - and makeup - I used to have quite the Sephora habit - and going out in public without looking like I just rolled out of bed.

I dress nicer for work than I probably have to. I put on a full face of makeup every day. My hair is always curled. I never look *perfect* because, honestly, I like sleep more than I like looking nice, but I leave the house every day feeling like I look good. I don't do it to impress anyone other than myself, because if I think I look good, I also feel good. If I feel good, I have a good day at work. If I have a good day at work, my bosses are happy. Everyone wins.

Since I've been one of the only girls, if not the only girl, in the room in various arenas throughout my life, it wasn't at all a shock to me to join the male-dominated engineering field. I knew the stereotypes about gender roles in STEM fields but I'm happy to report that so far, they're completely unfounded. I've never been treated differently than my male counterparts. I've never been the subject of any unwarranted or rude behavior. I've never been the recipient of any unwanted attention. If anyone has ever devalued me or my work based on my looks or my reproductive system, they've at least had the decency to keep that to themselves. 

Last year I posted a list of things you might not guess about me, and even I based most of that list on what I look like. I know what people probably think (or don't think) when they see me. My blonde hair. My white skin. My conservative clothes. My short height. My makeup. My athletic build. They probably don't see an engineer. They probably don't see a marathoner either. Or a yogi. Or someone who someone with a bar through her ear or ink in her skin.  Or a person who should know as many rap lyrics as I do. Hell, a lot of people don't even see an adult when they look at me!

I might not look like the stereotypical version of those things, but I look like all of them. I am all of them.

In other, related news, I might be Scout Finch. As fate would have it, the night after this happened I picked up my Kindle to read my Literary Ladies pick for "A book with a kickass female character" (nailed it, btw) and on that very day I hit this exchange between Scout and her Uncle Jack:
"You want to grow up to be a lady, don't you?"
I said not particularly.

#ilooklikeanengineer

10 comments :

  1. you're lucky that you were never treated with disrespect for being in what is typically seen as a male-dominated field although these days, women are kicking ass in so many areas and doing awesome in such fields.

    i'm in the IT world and when i first started (during the dotcom boom eons ago) it was totally a "boys club". anytime anyone saw a female who wasn't sloppy, messy or unkempt (because that's how they apparently saw women in IT), she was assumed to be an assistant of some kind and treated as such....me included. i was a systems analyst at my first job out of college at an IT firm and the VP came up to my desk, actually walked across the room from his office to my desk, to ask me to fax something. never mind that he passed by the fax machine on his way to my desk. can you believe that shit? i was so surprised and disgusted by his behaviour that i told him in the most patronizing voice i could muster "you see that big machine over there THAT YOU PASSED ON THE WAY TO MY DESK? the one with the lid and buttons? that's a fax machine right there. treat it like a phone and press the green button when you're ready to transmit". the nerve of that asshole.

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  2. haha love this!
    i played with barbies like it was my job! i also climbed trees, played football with the boys and did jiu jitsu. it was too hard for my mum to do boy things and girl things, and i was happy to tag along with my brothers. but i'm like you. i'm more girly than i was then, but i still do the majority of my 'looking good' stuff for me, for the same reasons. i feel good, and when i feel good, i'm happy.
    i'm glad you've had good experiences so far with being a girl in the field you're in. i hope it stays that way!
    ps. I have hard hats in my car as well. lol! i have to have them in case i go to a project site lol.

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  3. I'm so glad you don't get treated any differently for being a female engineer! I'm probably going to write a post similar to this eventually. I'm in the Army National Guard and I do get treated differently by a lot of people and I HATE it. Its incredibly frustrating to see someone that I have the exact same qualifications has get more responsibility and tasks than me just because he is a male and I'm a female. Also love your outfit!

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  4. This is perfect!! I have friends who are engineers and how sad is it that people still think this is odd?! Heck Im a female attorney and people still expect badass attorneys to be men. I for one think you are a badass!

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  5. I love this! It goes to show that you cant judge a book by it's cover and that just because you are put together and girly on the outside...doesn't mean that it reflects or defines your life! I am the only female in my office. I rather like it!

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  6. I have a hard hat too! I rarely use it, but I have to have one if I go to our mine site. I agree about putting yourself together in the morning and looking good = feeling good. Dress for success, right?

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  7. Scout Finch is one of my all-time absolute favorite characters of anything, anywhere. She's a pretty fantastic role model, I think, even given that she's a little kid.
    I'm like you in a lot of ways, in that given most typical circumstances, I don't present the "vibe" of a lot of my traits/characteristics/hobbies. I don't necessarily love the distinction of "girly" or "not girly," because I feel like it's ludicrously limiting. I wear makeup and care about what I wear, so that makes me girly (to some). I won't spend a lot of money on accessories I find frivolous and prefer, generally, basics in wardrobe, so not girly (to some). I can't stand gold and I own more things that are black or made of wood than I own things that are pink. I think even the combination of running and yoga splits the girly/not girly assignment. But at this point I'm just rambling and not really sure if what I'm saying has a conclusion... so anyway, happy to hear that STEM professionals treat you well ;)

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  8. You are such a smarty pants! I definitely don't have the brains for all that science and math and such. Love that the hard hat was yours. Also, you are super cute :)

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  9. Good for you!! What was his reaction when he found out the hard hat was yours?

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  10. I LOVE THIS. I love that you're a badass in a male-dominated field. I love that you're a tomboy who cares about her appearance too - because that's me to a tee. And the Scout Finch reference is obviously a favorite for me. :P

    I sometimes get frustrated at work because I DO put more work into my appearance than necessary. So many teachers seem to give up on looking professional or just don't care at all about fashion. But then they automatically assume I'm "girly", which I'm SO not. I had one of the teachers even make some dig about how I wasn't athletic, and it just happened to be right around the time I had been training for my half. I looked at him incredulously and said, "When's the last time YOU went for a 13 mile run? I'm allowed to look nice AND be athletic. So don't start with me." I hate how fashion is connected to being a "girl". I hate how every girl is expected to love pink. Sigh.

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