The Monday Snapshot - Female Engineer in a Man's World

Now that I dove into being featured, I thought, well, maybe I should participate for once!  Normally, I'm not organized enough on this blog to participate in anything that occurs on a certain day.  A typical day like that, is seeing the various posts, thinking "oh, what a good idea", and...not acting.

Currently, a dam I work on is under construction.  It's in Utah and I've now been there twice in the last month and a half to watch the construction activities.  The role I play now, as opposed to my former lives at different workplaces, is literally to observe.  To stand there, watch, learn, ask questions, but not to interact directly with the contractor.  If I see something I'm not sure is being done correctly, I have to track down the Field Engineer, talk to him and let him handle it.  That's not to say that someone in my role doesn't make decisions (we do), but we tend to be treated like those desk jockeys.  It's an ingrained culture where I work that us in the office do the design, then we hand it over to the construction folks and they will make sure it gets built to specifications (preferably with no input from the designer).  It's a slightly more collaborative atmosphere now than in the past, but the undercurrent is still there.

Add to that, I'm a girl.  Let's face it, I don't get respect right out of the gate.  I'm also a girl who has spent a fair amount of time on construction sites as an inspector, arguing with contractors, and not giving a flying f*ck what they think about me.  Lately, though, as I've matured and gained more confidence in my abilities, I've started being pleasant, and convey an attitude of teamwork, instead of me vs. them.  Hey, it works and I no longer wonder what they are saying behind my back.  Although, I'm sure that there are some "discussions" given that they don't often come across a female engineer.

The one thing that is guaranteed to piss me off that I'll be stewing about for days to come?  When a guy on a construction site walks up to me and says "Why aren't you smiling?  Aren't you happy to be here?"  or  just a "Hey, smile, it's not so bad!"  How many times do you think they say that to another guy?



 
This is part of a weekly feature called The Monday Snapshot over at PAIL. Click here to join in and learn more about the featured blogger this week!