Today I was on a job site and I was thinking to myself, I really don’t think that I have ever experienced any prejudice from male construction workers or engineers. So then I started to think that maybe its not that men in male dominated fields like construction or engineering are prejudice, its that women act a certain way that warrants the prejudice and judgment. They could come off as ditzy because they think that’s how they have to act or like they know everything because they are afraid that men will maybe see a weakness and exploit it. There may have been a prejudice towards women in male dominated fields before, but I don’t think that is the case anymore.
I knew that going into a male dominated field could be difficult, but so far I haven’t come across any man that has been rude to me (at least to my face) because I am a woman in a male dominated field. Not even men from companies that are pegged as “good ol’ boy” construction companies. I have worked with various contractors in the last few years and I have never found one person that is off put because I am a woman working in engineering and construction. I think that this is 2017 and now it is seen as “cool” that women have ventured into these types of fields. There is no stereotype anymore; it’s all in how you choose to act. It directly reflects how you will be treated.
So, back to how women portray themselves. I think that the biggest factor perpetuating this problem is women that act all big and tough, like they know everything because they are afraid that if they show any weakness. This is the problem. When I first started working, I didn’t know anything and I knew that I didn’t know anything. Engineering school doesn’t teach you anything about the real world so I wasn’t going to pretend that I knew everything there is to know about it. Instead, I listened and I learned. From anyone I could. I asked questions when I didn’t know things and talked to people. I developed a rapport with them. And I have never had a problem.
Be approachable and responsive and it will pay you back ten fold. You are young and you are inexperienced. Don’t pretend that you’re not. Just accept it and learn what you can. And this applies for any field, not just women in male dominated fields.
What advice do you have for women in male dominated fields?