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Need an honest answer
33

Need an honest answer

Need an honest answer

(OP)
What do you think of women engineers? Or is it impossible to make such a generalization?

I am a female engineer, 35, married with children so I work only part time, (four days a week). I sometimes feel like I do not get the big important jobs to work on and this is frustrating, personally and professionally. Granted not getting the big jobs is probably due to me working only part time rather than me being female. But I still wonder.

Also I feel my boss doesn't like working with me. Every project I have worked on with him, he transfers the job to someone else eventually (mostly male engineers, but he did once give one job to another female engineer). What gives?

A male opinion and suggestions would be appreciated. I hope I did not offend anyone. I am just trying to figure out what to do. Or is it all in my head?

RE: Need an honest answer

As a male engineer with a female engineer as a spouse, I can sympathize.  Being part time doesn't help your situation.  To make the long story short, it is all in your head.  If your company compensates you and treats you fairly for the work you do for the company (compared to the full time male counterpart) then there's no problem.  On the other hand, if you feel so bad, you can move on to bigger and better things and no one will stop you.

When I said it's all in your mind, you can take the exact same situation you're in and end up with two completely opposing conclusions.  Either conclusion can be correct depending on your own needs.

RE: Need an honest answer

Most likely, you are not getting prime assignments because you are part time.  In my experience, anyone not working regular hours is deemed "not fully committed", and thus not "worthy" of the best projects.

Personally, I have nothing against women in engineering.  Like women in any field, they face a tough lot.  I have seen excellent female engineers get shafted by their chauvinistic bosses.  I have also seen incompetent female engineers exploit their status as "protected minority".

I could be the world's greatest underachiever, if I could just learn to apply myself.
http://www.EsoxRepublic.com-SolidWorks API VB programming help

RE: Need an honest answer

1.  Perhaps your boss is good at delegating.
2.  Perhaps your boss does not want to put himself in a position of working closely with a female.  Regardless of professionalism, etc., there is no escaping that the gender element adds a dimension to the relationship, and it adds the responsibility of exercising self-restraint.  The more external restraints, the easier self-restraint is, particularly if you are reasonably attractive.  Don't say "it's not like that between us", because it is.  He will never speak of it, though, and neither will you, because you are professionals.
3.  Perhaps the part-time issue is too big a hurdle for him to be convinced that you are committed to the job, and that goes for anyone.  I would bet there's not a swingin' D out there in Corporate America that wouldn't spend more time at home with the W & C if he could get away with it.

Regards,
William

RE: Need an honest answer

You may have your manager scared.  You are probably making non-traditional requests in a role riddled with tradition.  His first instinct may be to say "No" to working only part-time, or any other request to leave early for child related stuff, simply because it is contrary to what he is used to. If this is such a case, he may prefer to replace you, but is not sure if the law is on your side.  So perhaps he gives you some little bit of work to keep you busy and employed, but leaves him more wiggle room to manage in the traditional way he is used to.

He may also really feel like he needs you and wants you around, but because you are working part-time, he may not feel a sense of ease over your level of commitment. I've experienced this in my current position when I was "interem."  I got busy work, because as far as management was concerned, they didn't know how long I would stay.  You won't get a big important project if you're a flight risk.

If either or both of these scenerios are true, I say you step up and ask for primary responsibility on a bigger project.  It will show motivation and dedication on your part and may give your manager the opportunity to open his mind to non-traditional work arrangements.

ChemE, M.E. EIT
"The only constant in life is change." -Bruce Lee

RE: Need an honest answer

3
Here are a few thoughts:

1 You only work part time, and as such, the important jobs of responsibility should go to those willing to make a fulltime commitment.  

2 Perhaps you are not qualified for the big important jobs.

3 In some work atmospheres, having women employed is an invitation to sexual harassment suits.  Some people find it easier to keep those who might be offended away instead of changing their behavior.  (Not right, but I have seen this.)

4 Another problem is that a few people feel the need to provide affirmative action towards women in the workplace.  As such, in jobs that are traditionally male orientated, some women are advanced for reasons other than merit.  After someone has dealt with an unqualified affirmative action placed minority, they punish anyone within that minority when they deal with them.  (Not right.)

5 Your boss may be sexually attracted to you.  One typical response is that he is keeping his distance to ensure that he is never in a position of temptation.  (Not right, but I have been guilty of keeping my distance.)

Are you willing to work overtime when there are problems meeting deadlines?  

RE: Need an honest answer

I think that your part time situation is the real driver behind the particular work circumstances that you are facing. Favoritism exists in all jobs towards and against all kinds of people for a variety of reasons. But unless you are a mind reader you can't verify these reasons. I'll offer you a statement that my accountant brother said about his female subordinates: "Women complain less and do the job rather than try to find ways of putting it off like the men do." Of course this is merely one particular situation and others do vary.

RE: Need an honest answer

I'd give anything to work part time or even work (4) 10 hour days and have a long weekend and be able to spend more time w/ my boys.  I would tend to think that because you are part time you are treated as such.  Personally, I'd take being "unfulfilled" in my professional career and work part time 10 out of 10 times to spend more time w/ my family rather than vice versa.  Just make sure to treat the work that you are given as of the utmost importance and I would think the more "important" assignments would follow.  Excellence breeds excellence.

Good luck and perhaps when your children are older and in school (assumption) you can work full time and find more fulfillment at work and get those more important assignments.  Sounds to me like you have a good deal going on at the moment as I don't personally know many engineers that can work part time and pay the bills.

Brian
Pressure Vessels and Autoclave Systems
www.mcabeeconstruction.com

The above comments/opinions are solely my own and not those of McAbee Construction.

RE: Need an honest answer

7
I agree with the others that if you are in fact being held back (as opposed to believing you are held back), it probably has more to do with your part-time status than your sex.  However, your part-time status is a common manifestation of the "mommy track", and I wouldn't be surprised if part-timers got more respect once more of them were male.

Your situation is ringing some bells with me, though.  A friend of mine who had been doing very well in the aerospace industry found herself suddenly sidelined once the baby was born.  First there was the maternity leave, then there was the attempt to go part-time for a while, then there was full-time but need to leave on a moment's notice if the kid was sick, and now that the kid's not so sickly she's still sidelined.  In her situation, none of the other women had children, and the men all had stay-at-home wives, so no one understood, let alone respected, the concerns of a working parent.  Not that she'd trade the kid for her career at this point, but she was definitely put on the mommy track.

My advice:  document everything, and find your own non-boss mentors within your workplace if you can.

If you go to the "Obstacles" forum links page:
http://www.eng-tips.com/links.cfm?pid=732
and search for "E-forums", you'll get to something that you might find useful.

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer

I did the part-time thing as a contractor.  I was working full time (50-60 hrs/week) but not full time on a single project.  The different projects were for the same customer who wanted my presence on two projects in different buildings.

That was enough to skew perceptions about my commitment.  There were individuals who did try to take advantage of that.

RE: Need an honest answer

"What do you think of female engineers?"
I met a couple who were great, I also met some who were shockingly ignorant. Just like the males.

About you not getting the big jobs, I wouldn't know to be honest. How does your performance review tie in? Any significant negative points?

RE: Need an honest answer

2
I've been on the other side of this issue three different times.  In all three cases somewhere on a project the "part timer" (two women and one man) missed deadlines that were critical to the performance of the rest of the project team.  On one project this happened multiple times. The project really didn't care if the problem was a sick child, sick parent, or sick dog (I kid you not), the project was just late.

My responsibility was to the project schedule, budget, and entire team so my tendancy was to make sure that the part-timer didn't get any work that was on the critical path and watched very closely to make sure that part-time delays didn't put those parts onto the critical path.  Two of the part-timers resented this extra oversight, but I didn't know what else to do and still meet my commitments.

I found the whole thing to be very difficult and not condusive to a good project development. By the end of my big-company career I tried to find individual-contributer assignments for part-timers and kept them off project teams.  Everyone seemed happier and the individual projects seldom missed a schedule when there was no one else to blame.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering
www.muleshoe-eng.com
Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips Fora.

The harder I work, the luckier I seem

RE: Need an honest answer

You can offset the part-time issue by being organized and focused and get the same amount of work done that the full time employees do. I can tell you for sure that there are people who put in 10 or 12 hours a day but they don't do a half days worth of work.

RE: Need an honest answer

1.  Well, like everybody else has put, the part-time situation doesn't help.

2.  You said you are 35 - so, probably, you must have been working for the last 10 to 14 years or so, depending on when you started.  Have you always been treated like this ?  Have you worked under only one boss throughout your career ?  If yes, you can't rule out a possibility of an individual's likes and dislikes coming into picture.  If you were treated like this throughout your career under different bosses, then, it's time you had a look at yourself - do a self-analysis, get peer-analysis done.

HVAC68

RE: Need an honest answer

3
I've worked with two excellent engineers who happened to be female...

... and one grossly underqualified nightmare of a female who bullied her way into choice assignments by making veiled threats about discrimination and/or harassment.  She was so aggressively defensive that managers wouldn't relieve her, even after she screwed up, big time, lots of times.  They eventually put her in a manager job, where she pissed away needed resources conducting colossally stupid experiments and filling her office with notebooks of irreproducible useless data proving ... nothing.  A wall of notebooks stuffed full of incomprehensible data sure looks impressive to your average board member.  

The technical staff seemed to share the same opinion of her engineering ability, but they were not dumb enough to go up against her, or to get involved with her little operation if they could possibly help it.

She was and remains so fluorescently incompetent and so clearly impossible to get rid of, that she may have poisoned the well for you, no matter where you are, no matter how good you are.

;--

Okay, I'm not an unbiased source.  One of the first jobs she bullied her way into had been mine.  She screwed that up too, and never got blamed for it.

Later, I had a run-in with an Administrative ASSistant, who filed a complaint about me with HR, for politely asking her to stop flooding the company e-mail system with breathless pre- announcements of an upcoming memo, cc'd to 2000+ people who had lots of things to do besides read content- free communications.
 
;--

Before the EEOC existed, I treated females as equals, and got along just fine.  Okay, so far as _I_ know.  

Now, they probably think I'm mean and cold, because I don't even speak to them unless I absolutely have to.  Maybe a grunt for 'hello', and I'll return a greeting, but striking up a conversation or giving a compliment is now a Career Decision, and I've made enough of those.

I wouldn't hire you on a bet.  No offense is intended, and it has nothing to do with you, personally.  You did ask for an honest answer.






Mike Halloran
NOT speaking for
DeAngelo Marine Exhaust Inc.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA

RE: Need an honest answer

gabbott,

I many of the views noted above: I've worked with a number of female engineers, and some have been brilliant, and some have been utterly useless. One ex-colleague turned down an award for best female engineer because she said it devalued her because she would have still won it if all her male colleagues had been included. She was right too. I won't dwell on the bad ones, but I've worked with male engineers with similar levels of inability so it is by no means a male / female thing.

How big is your employer? Some company HR departments need to meet some arbitrary target for M / F ratio. In doing so, people don't always end up in the role best for them and the best person doesn't always get the job. Smaller companies can't afford 'extras' just to make HR happy.

The part-time thing is definitely against you, but I think you are making the best choice by spending time with your family while they are young. I admire your committment to be able to juggle both roles; I'm not sure I could.

If you aren't getting the big high-profile jobs, don't imagine that your work isn't important. I've spent much of the last six years dealing with oddball projects, resolving problems that others have played about with and failed to sort out, and generally finding my desk is where the awkward stuff ends up. I've come to enjoy it, although I've resented it too at times. There's a certain pleasure in solving a complex problem which all your colleagues walked away from. Don't imagine that you aren't valued because you aren't in the limelight all the time. The other work is still important, and if you are in the limelight all the time, all your mistakes are highlighted as well as the successes. It is a double-edged sword. In your position you have a great chance to learn and when the opportunity comes to go full-time when the kids go to college you'll have a lot of experience. Hang on in there.

----------------------------------

If we learn from our mistakes,
I'm getting a great education!

RE: Need an honest answer

Down through the years, I have hired several well qualified engineers who happen to be female.  I also have hired male engineers, gay engineers bisexual engineers and one transgender engineer.  Rob went on vacation and came back Bobbie (not the real names), talk about a tough time at the office.

Considering the my specialty, I have always been up front with all of my prospective employees.  I point out that we often work with a crude boorish bunch of roughnecks, rednecks and hicks, if they arfe easily embarrassed by the type of language or behaviour which one can expect from, oh for instance a tower erection crew, they really don't want to work for me.

One of my best Civil engineers was part time.  Her husband worked as an EE for an area government contractor.  My wife loves kids, so I made sure she had my wife's cell number and in the rare occasion when she was needed NOW at a site, "Aunt Chriss" would show up in a company 4X4 and take care of the kids while mom took the truck to the site.

All of that said, Just because I ran my operation in that manner (come to think of it, I don't work for them any more ) doesn't mean that is the norm.  Part time employees often don't get an even break, however telecommuting  is becomming more common.  Try talking to your boss and let him know that you would be interested in working your regular schedule on the site or in the office, but you would also like to fill in the remainder of the 40-hour week telecommuting.  You may need to have High Speed installed, but with a good VPN client, you can get much of the at-the-desk work done from your desk at home.

I remain,

The Old Soldering Gunslinger

RE: Need an honest answer

Speaking as an old timer that I thought I never would become, when I was a kid the guys who worked on cars, built model airplanes, and took things apart went on to become engineers. A typical engineer had a lot of mechanical feel for things. Girls were never encouraged to do these things so there were few female engineers up until recent times.

Today engineering has become little more than project management. You have to be a good computer jockey and know how to present schedules and budgets. I don't think there is any difference between male and female in this regard. If anything, women might be better at it.

RE: Need an honest answer

(OP)
Thanks for all of your great and honest responses. I think it mainly is a result of the part time situation and I just need to be an adult about it and accept that I have made my choice to work part time and accept the consequences. I also should keep a postive attitude and treat all projects as important. (Come to think of it a lot of people have built successful small businesses out of doing something that no one else wanted to do and do it well. A local (and well off) garbage collection company comes to mind.)

Incidentally my neighbor (father of two young children) just started with a new employer and made the comment that he would rather take a half hour lunch (rather than a full hour) and leave a haf hour early to pick up his kids, help with dinner, etc. but he said his boss is "old school" and likes "face time" so he was not able to do it. It seem that females are not the only ones who want flexibility for family/home issues.

Another possibiltiy in my situation could be that my boss (PE), who has the same years of experience as me, may feel more comfortable delegating and/or working with "green horn" enineers than me, who is also a PE.

Regarding the comments about my abilities, I know I have some weak points which I am trying to work on. Two that I can think of are I tend to work a little slow due to trying to be a perfectionist and I can come off as timid, which I know is really bad in business. I am working on these.

In another two years or less, I plan to go back to full time work. I will take your suggestions to "step up to the plate" and ask for more responsibility and hopefully will get it. Currently we are extremely busy and I feel pressure to work more.

RE: Need an honest answer

Mike--

On the one hand, I understand about poisoning the well, and I greatly resent those who set a bad example.  On the other hand, there's not much better to say about those who allow themselves to be poisoned.

I've had a couple of managers who were male and completely undermined their underlings, including me, and I've had two extremely incompetent male co-workers who simply could not be fired.  I've also seen male managers, especially those large of stature, bully their colleagues.  On the other hand, I've never had a female manager mistreat me, and have only had one incompetent female co-worker (a secretary; much less of a problem than an incompetent engineer).  Based on your example, I've decided to avoid men as much as possible, and given the choice I wouldn't hire one.

And did I mention that one of the extremely incompetent co-workers who could not be fired was a person of color?  Best to avoid "those people" as well; they'll just paralyze you by screaming racism at every turn, won't they?  If that sounds like a bad thing to say, think about what it means to say the same thing about women.

Thanks for the helpful advice.

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer

4
It is so easy (and human) to lump people together based on a common characteristic and think that it is valid to apply a judgment of one person in that group to the whole group...and so wrong.

For example, if I do not enjoy working with a person because I consider them to be an incompetent engineer based on the quality of their work, that is a value judgment and it is appropriate for me to modify my behavior towards them accordingly.  For example, I may not hand critical projects to that person because of my mistrust of their ability.  (Of course, if I am any kind of leader at all, I will also be attempting to train and encourage them to grow and improve, but that's a story for a different forum).

BUT, and this is a very BIG BUT...the instant I apply the "incompetent" label to any other person because they share a characteristic with the person whom I have determined to be incompetent, I AM WRONG.

For example, if the person whom I have determined to be incompetent is blonde, one-armed, Norwegian, tall, female, and wears blue, if I then consider all blondes to be incompetent engineers, or all one-armed persons to be incompetent engineers, or all Norwegians to be incompetent engineers, ad nauseum, I am very very very wrong.

I turn 50 years old this year, and I am aware that some of my most detested but deep rooted prejudices still well up inside and embarrass me with the fact that they still exist.  You would think I could have conquered them all by now.

This may apply to your boss, gabbott.  Though I have worked with (and for!) some highly competent female engineers, there are times I am uncomfortable because my "old" beliefs pop back into my mind.  He may actually be embarrassed at his prejudices (if it is prejudice on his part) and people tend to avoid those who make them feel embarrassed.

I have also NOT worked with (or for) part-time managers, supervisors, project engineers or team leaders, so I would have a tendency there to be uncertain about part time engineers as well.  And it has been my observation that part time engineers do not typically get selected as team leaders, project engineers, supervisors or managers.  Of course I have not seen it all, just sharing my own experience.

RE: Need an honest answer

Hg...  _I_ don't lump people together for classification purposes, but HR weenies _do_.

It's easier to understand after 'sensitivity training'.

A person who behaves in a reasonable way has nothing to fear from the law.

A person who behaves in a reasonable way has everything to fear from their own HR department.

That's another discussion.


Mike Halloran
NOT speaking for
DeAngelo Marine Exhaust Inc.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA

RE: Need an honest answer

Mike--amen to that!  I've come close to getting in trouble in EEO training classes.

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer

2
Well, either wrong or prescient...

While generalization is generally bad, people with similiar problems do tend to have similar behaviors.  

If spouse abusers share similar traits, why not incompetent engineers?  

At least, in my own experience, I've noticed that people who boast about their contributions to previous projects tend to either:
> actually have done little in real work
or,
> actually was never involved in that project at all.

The latter is a real situation where a new employee, fairly high on the food chain boasted about his having solved problems on a project at his previous company.  Only thing was, that was also my previous company and a project that I worked on.  I had never, ever seen him involved in anything related to that project during the crisis period that he supposedly solved.

TTFN

RE: Need an honest answer

Generalization is a very handy typically human thing to do, it saves lots of brain computing time. It's not very pleasant for the object of generalization if it happens to be a person...

I think the predominant phenomenon is that people who boast about having been deeply involved in whatever project trigger investigations by their colleagues annoyed by all the boasting. I've met people who didn't boast at all but kept very quiet... who had not achieved anything significant either. I tend to think that the two are orthogonal.

But like it or not, boasting does do miracles with ill-informed senior managers...

RE: Need an honest answer

IRStuff--depends on the characteristic.

All three of my most incompetent co-workers had dark hair.  Guess I better hire only blondes from now on.

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer

Touché, HgTX.  

I've been following this thread for a while, but haven't commented yet, just to see what topics would come up.  Being a young woman in the engineering field, I have only experienced the prejudices and demeaning behavior from older men who are NOT engineers.  My visits to job sites usually include condescending comments or behavior from the supers, GC's, subs, etc.  Sometimes I get the feeling they are saying, "awww... how cute, she thinks she's an engineer."  (Of course it doesn't help that I'm petite).  It takes talking through the project and the issues before they realize that I  know what I'm talking about and then some.  I never got that treatment from fellow engineers, nor have any my undergrad and grad professors ever treated me that way.  It is frustrating trying to present an accurate first impression that protrays what you know and what you can do for a project when people have predetermined assumptions based on gender and appearance.

By the way HgTX, glad to know that you're hiring blondes!

RE: Need an honest answer

Sure, you can take it to an absurd conclusion, but that doesn't make the technique invalid.   

FBI profiling is all about finding generic traits of certain criminal behavior.

TTFN

RE: Need an honest answer

I doubt that most engineers have the psycho-analytical abilities to qualify as an FBI profiler.  If they do, then they probably aren't the ones making erroneous assumptions about one's intelligence based solely on gender.

RE: Need an honest answer

I have no problems with female engineers. Its the female clerical staff that scare & offend me. They seem to think that they're self-employed. They only pay attention to the bosses (sometimes). I have seen this with 3 different employers. Probably has something to do with their educational level.

Zo40,

Think about the educational & intelligence level of those men that you get to interact with at a construction site. The only thing that they read regularly is probably the label on a beer bottle. Even though I'm male, I am slender of build and I think that they laugh at me behind my back.

RE: Need an honest answer

Now look who's stereotyping!  
(I'm  just kidding, EddyC.  Thank you for the sympathy!)

I'm just complaining about the frustration and annoyance of dealing with it 90% of the time.  Even my dad (who is also an engineer) is from the "old school," but he's come around recently... actually he still has the same old beliefs, but to him I'm "the exception."

RE: Need an honest answer

You bring up a good point Zo40, people outside our profession do have a different view of us as engineers, and espically those that do not fit the stereotypical role of an engineer, women in this case.  Some of my best project managers are women.  Some of my best hires to date have also been women (hair color was not a key in my selection process though...LOL)

I have confronted contractors and vendors that want to play the sexist game when it has involved my engineers that happen to be female.  It is not very comfortable for the contractors when I take them on publically and explain the atmosphere that will surround a job.  I do this from a manager perspective, not a male protect female perspective.  I think knowing the difference is something we need to all strive to get better at.  I feel that my people are my responsibility and that my work places will essentially be blind to sex, color, etc.  We all get lauged at behind our backs, and as engineers, there probably isn't much that we can do about that, we are cursed...lol...But in public, there is something we can do and we should not be afraid to make a stand or support others that make a stand.

As for your case gabbott, I agree that the part time status is the biggest hold back in your situation.  I too, as a manager, will divert projects away from part timers and instead, relagate them to task work on projects.

Bob

RE: Need an honest answer

One of the complaints that I hear from younger male engineers in Consulting Engineering environments is that they would like a better male/female balance in the workplace. Younger people prefer to be able to interact with the opposite gender as they are at a pre-marital stage in their lives. Something to think about.

RE: Need an honest answer

Eddy--Male OR female secretary who doesn't have to answer to anyone is a longstanding truth.  It says so in Dilbert, so it must be so.

http://www.jokes2go.com/02/10/j10.html

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer

Gabbott,

Have you thought about asking your boss why the reassignments, without first making an assumption as to why it might be happening?

Say something like "I would really like to see these projects to the end, but it seems that they get reassigned at a certain stage.  What can I do to keep a project to its conclusion?  I'm really jazzed about this project... can I keep it."

Then see what the response is.

RE: Need an honest answer

The things I hate about being a female engineer

1) telling people I just met what I do for a living and having them respond with a comment about how unusual it is to be a woman in engineering.

2) having my language corrected when I refer to myself as a draughtsman ("draughtsperson") or a chairman ("chair person") or whatever. Maybe its just because I'm too lazy to say the extra syllable but draughtsman just trips off the tongue better.

3) not getting to hear the really good jokes because the guy from the 'old guard' won't say rude things in front of a lady.

Things are definitely getting better though. The grey-haired brigade (sorry to bring it back to hair colour) who can't get used to working with women are fast approaching retirement age and the rest are mostly able to at least pretend we're all equal - and some of them even believe it!

RE: Need an honest answer

kchayfie #3:  I hate that!!  I hate the whole "pardon my French" thing, especially from people who know I have a mouth like a sailor.  (Though some of them were conditioned by their mommas who beat them for cussing in front of the ladies, or so they tell me, so it's cruel of me to expect them to act any different now.)

#2:  Sheesh.  How unfeminist to presume to tell a woman how unfeminist her language is.  Another one that bothers me is when someone uses the word "he" and then trips themselves up to inject "or she" right after.  "He or she" used fluently is fine and dandy, but to make a big production of *trying* to say it is worse than just using the masculine, because it overtly emphasizes women's minority status.

#1:  Doesn't bother me (despite my last sentence in #2 above; I guess cocktail party conversation is subject to different standards from professional conduct).  It *is* unusual.  It's kind of fun to be unusual.  

Then there's the shocked "Wow, you actually do know what you're talking about!" which is simultaneously gratifying and annoying (and applicable both to women and to the young or green).  What I've been getting lately is a moderate version of that--several times over the last year or two, someone I've never met before has come up to me after a meeting and praised me about how knowledgeable and competent I seem to be.  I can't help wondering if they are just trying to encourage an up-and-coming young person or if it really is more of a "contrary to expectations" reaction.  Probably a little of both.

To Zo40:  I could lose my NOW card over this, but there are worse things than being thought of as cute, as long as they still do what you say.  (Likewise with the whole "honey/sweetie" thing--"Honey, how many holes do you want dug and how deep do you want them?" gets me the holes dug just fine and quite possibly faster.)  In the right environment it can even be useful--guys are less likely to get confrontational with someone who reminds them of their little niece.  For every guy who thinks he can push women around, there's another who has a full arsenal of bullying tactics he's used to using on males but can't bring himself to use on women.

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer


I might as well chime in, too!

#1 - Doesn't bother me, but I usually roll my eyes.  Can't help it.  I think most people actually mean well, even if it comes out a bit clumsy.

#2 - We call our 'draftspeople' CAD monkeys.

#3 - I REALLY HATE THAT!!!!  Guys, we WANT to hear the good jokes.

To Zo40, I think it actually gets better as you get older, or maybe you just get better at deflecting, I don't know.  When I was in my 20's and going to construction sites, I felt intimidated.  Things kind of turned around by the time I hit 30.  I used to think, at least I'm not petite!  I can look many of the guys eye-to-eye.   I think being a petite woman may be a bit of a disadvantage, but I'm sure it can be overcome. Find what works for you and your personality.  Humor usually works for me.  "I'd love to sit here all day and talk about my a**, but the boss says I have to write a progress report about the building."

.

RE: Need an honest answer

(OP)
When I started engineering 11 years ago, I thought prejudice was fading and nearly a thing of the past. Apparently I was being overly optimistic.

Things I hate about being a female engineer;

1. When a young inexperienced male engineer doesn't know something, he is "green." When a young inexperienced female engineer doesn't know something, she is a "dumb blond" or "clueless."

2. Constantly having to prove, day after day, week after week, ad nauseum, that you do in fact know something.

3. Walking into a room, and the room suddenly qetting quiet.

4. The strained looks and/or comments I get when someone finds out what I do for a living.

Sometimes I just get so fed up I just feel like saying screw engineering! its just not worth it and going and do something else. Then I calm down, remember that not everybody is an asshole and keep on going.

I do agree with HgTX that a little of the cute jokes and "honeys" here and there is not the end of the world. I can deal with that.

RE: Need an honest answer

(OP)
Oh yeah and we DO want to hear the good jokes!

RE: Need an honest answer

gabbott,

If you're worried about being seen as a dumb blonde, dye your hair dark. Artificial Intelligence!

Have I actually managed an entire post without a typo? I'll award myself a medal. My previous posts are a literary disgrace.

----------------------------------

If we learn from our mistakes,
I'm getting a great education!

RE: Need an honest answer

gabbott,

I would prefer that you remain an engineer and not leave due to chuvinistic behavior on the part of some of the people that you meet. As the years go by the "neanderthals" will be weeded out of engineering as well as society. It just takes time.

Although I am male, engineers in general are not thought of very highly in American society. They are generally thought of as "nerds" and "geeks". If you can sing and posture on a record cover with a gun, you are "cool", but if you can design something that makes the world a better place, that doesn't count for much. It would be the gun brandishing singer (or athlete or actor or etc.) who would get invited to the party, rather than the engineer. As an engineer, I think that society is upside down in who they view as heros.

RE: Need an honest answer

As a mentioned before, my 11-yr old was watching a Barney episode about careers, which was extremely gender-typed.  So, it'll be at least a few more generations before everything gets normalized.

The recent to-do about combat roles for women typifies the current situation pretty well.

TTFN

RE: Need an honest answer

gabbot:

I have been given paper bags a few times by people and was told to put my clues in the bags when I find them.....

I have to prove myself every 5 minutes it seems.

When I walk into a room it gets quiet too, and I take advantage of that silence to take over and manage.

I have often said screw engineering and it was misplaced anger.  What I really needed was a change of scenery and changed jobs.

There are neandertals and fem-nazzis in every place of employment...don't be either and look down on them all....We as engineers are above all that and those that are not, we don't want up here with the rest.

Bob

RE: Need an honest answer

I have been called a Neanderthal by closed minded individuals.  These name callers believe that society should reflect their views and only their views.  Somehow these self-righteous individuals believe that only their opinions are pure and correct.  

All people are not equal.  It may be difficult if not impossible to find any two people who are equal.  This fact I acknowledged in grade school during the first spelling bee that I had to participate in.  I just wish there was a math bee where I could have been highly competitive.

Males on average have a biological advantage with spatial tasks (especially mental rotation), throwing accuracy, and mathematical reasoning.  

Females on average have a biological advantage with verbal memory, and object locations in an array, and some fine motor skills.

Hence, males and females on average are not equal.  One group is not better than the other, they are different.  All the politically correctness of modern society will not change the biological tendencies of the two sexes.  What political correctness does with its associated affirmative action programs is to try to redistribute social positions based on racial and sexual statistics.  This results in a mismatch of skills and tasks.  I see universities struggling for ethic and sexual diversity within their degreed programs, where affirmative actions are more important than academic excellence.  I see our government hiring practices trying to maintain some statistical base for ethnic and sexual diversity.

Is it any wonder that when someone sees a female engineer that they wonder if she meets the industry standard or the affirmative action standard?  

RE: Need an honest answer

Why the hell do you even need to wonder, when you meet someone who's in an EEO-protected group, which standard they met?  Either they are competent or they aren't, and if you can't judge that for yourself then you aren't competent either.  Affirmative action might be one of many possible reasons why someone you already know to be incompetent is able to keep their position, but it is certainly no reason to assume a priori that anyone in that group is incompetent. Making generalizations of that sort is lazy at best, and can be quite harmful.

I've met precisely ONE female engineer who seemed like a case of affirmative action overriding ability, and the only reason I even say that is because she rose higher than any of the incompetent males I know.  Most cases of incompetence I've run into can't be blamed on affirmative action.  What does that say about the cases that *might* be blamed on AA?  That maybe those cases, too, were due to the various other factors.

When you cite biological differences, you are essentially telling female engineers, "What are you complaining about?  You don't really belong here anyway." Keep in mind that the differences people like to point to are trends, no more, and they only account for SOME of the statistical underrepresentation of certain groups.  There are lots of people who don't fit with the supposed division of skills, and societal pressures FAR outweigh any biological differences.

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RE: Need an honest answer

The intention of my previous post was to point out and document that it is incorrect to believe that people are equal.  The same can be said about engineers.  This perspective opposes kchayfie’s statement:
the rest are mostly able to at least pretend we're all equal - and some of them even believe it!”   

HgTX, I do not have the skill to determine if someone is competent when I meet them.  I need to work with an engineer for several projects to determine whether they are competent. Competency cannot be solely equated to being knowledgeable.  An engineer who is knowledgeable and accurate is worthless to me if they cannot meet project deadlines.  I would call them incompetent if they can’t make the deadlines.  HgTX, you stated:   
when you meet someone who's in an EEO-protected group, which standard they met?  Either they are competent or they aren't, and if you can't judge that for yourself then you aren't competent either.
As such, by your statement above, it would make me incompetent if I could not tell someone’s competency after meeting them.  Seem like you like to prejudge people before you meet them.  

gabbott, in my first post item 2 indicated that you may not be qualified for the big important jobs.  To be honest, I have never known an incompetent person that recognized their own lack of ability.  I am not saying that you are incompetent; however, I am saying that if you were, you would probable not recognize it.  If I was incompetent, I doubt that I could tell.  I assume that I am competent only because I still have clients that keep calling on my skills.  Take a look at the following link regarding people’s ability to judge their competency:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/01/18/MN73840.DTL

RE: Need an honest answer

I too miss the days when I could tell you the good jokes.

Things change.

Mike Halloran
NOT speaking for
DeAngelo Marine Exhaust Inc.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA

RE: Need an honest answer

In theory, if you can't tell us the good jokes, you shouldn't be telling each other the good jokes either.  If it's that offensive, then it shouldn't be told in the workplace, period.  Wait till later and then tell it to anyone who'd be interested.

There are people one can joke with, and people one can't.  It doesn't take very long to tell which kind of person one is dealing with.  

It comes down to personality more than gender.  There are men I can't swear in front of.  (And by "swear", I mean words like "hell" and "crap", not the kind of words I could bet written up for using in the workplace at all.)  They get very upset.  And to back up a couple of topics, then they lecture me about how a nice young lady shouldn't talk like that, and do not even try to tell me they're just taking that attitude because of Eevul HR, because you know damn well they wouldn't say anything of the sort to a nice young gentleman.

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer

I'm guessing that you haven't had a serious run-in with HR yet.

By serious, I mean, you lose your job, but that's just the beginning.  Would you believe that a vested pension can disappear?  Would you believe that HR would fabricate and disseminate flat-out lies about you?  Would you believe ...  well, you wouldn't, and for your sake I hope you never do.

No, you can't always tell who is not going to take a joke well.  I swear there are people who lie in wait for you to say something 'wrong', and supplement their income by complaining to HR.

You can swear in front of me if you like.  Sometimes adjectives need turbocharging.

Mike Halloran
NOT speaking for
DeAngelo Marine Exhaust Inc.
Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA

RE: Need an honest answer

Zapster,
when I said we were equal, I meant of equal value within the workplace as opposed to clones of each other. Obviously it is necessary to play to each person's strengths but fitting a gender stereotype is not a strength of mine. Just as I wouldn't expect an electrical engineer to complete the structural design of a building (although if he can its a bonus), I wouldn't expect an engineer who happened to be female to be working on the job because of affirmative action and really only there to make the coffee.

RE: Need an honest answer

"Would you believe that HR would fabricate and disseminate flat-out lies about you?"

Yes, I would.  The false sexual harrassment case I know the most about at my workplace was filed by a man against a women, actually.

Zapster--
It's possible to tell whether someone's a complete incompetent even if you don't share their field of expertise.  It's called a BS Meter, and mine gets a regular workout--more around men than around women.

Ya wanna talk sex-linked behavioral differences?  Well-established societal values like machismo and similar concepts lead to men being much more likely to fake it even when they don't really know what they're talking about.  Making things up if they don't know the answer, stating opinion as fact, sounding completely confident when in fact they're just making an educated guess, etc., while on the other hand women have a documented tendency to hedge with phrases like "I think" or "maybe" even when they really do know what they're talking about.

If you can make the following argument:

1.  Women are inherently less qualified than men to be engineers (statistically speaking, natch, no offense intended to any present parties, yadda yadda).
2.  Thus any attempt to remedy statistical underrepresentation will likely result in underqualified women cluttering up the workplace.
3.  Hence the abilities of all female engineers must be in doubt, while the default for men is competent unless proven otherwise.

then surely I can make this argument:

1.  Men are more likely to bluff than women are.
2.  Thus I must trust what comes out of *all* men's mouths much less than what comes out of women's.
3.  And I should generally assume that nothing a man says is reliable.  Just to be on the safe side, you know.  But I should meanwhile give women the benefit of the doubt, since I have no particular reason not to.

Somehow, though, I don't feel compelled to make such a generalization.  Guess I'm just not looking as hard for excuses to disparage men as some people seem to be looking for reasons to think poorly of women.

I am surrounded by No Shortage Of Male Incompetence.  What does this mean?  It means that affirmative action is hardly the prime source of professional incompetence in modern society, and that even female incompetence could be due to the same myriad reasons as male incompetence, plus just that one little extra possible source.  Put it in perspective, and the small influence of affirmative action in light of all the other ways jackasses wind up in positions they should have really doesn't count for much.  Hardly worthy of a basis for condemnation of an entire sex.

Unless you're looking for a reason to condemn an entire sex.   Then it's pretty handy.

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer

I am greatly relieved to see the men in this forum (particularly HgTX) putting the gender situation in perspective!  

One thing I feel I should point out: another part of statistics (besides averages) is deviation from the mean.  Don't forget that for all of the untechnically minded females, there are as many on the other side of the spectrum.  Hopefully the universities were able to guide those men and women who were not compatible with the engineering profession into something better suited... HaHaHa!  I make myself laugh sometimes!

RE: Need an honest answer

zo40,
I guess men aren't the only insensitive creatures in the profession.  Look back a few posts to:

Quote:

To Zo40:  I could lose my NOW card over this, but there are worse things than being thought of as cute, as long as they still do what you say.  (Likewise with the whole "honey/sweetie" thing--"Honey, how many holes do you want dug and how deep do you want them?" gets me the holes dug just fine and quite possibly faster.)  In the right environment it can even be useful--guys are less likely to get confrontational with someone who reminds them of their little niece.  For every guy who thinks he can push women around, there's another who has a full arsenal of bullying tactics he's used to using on males but can't bring himself to use on women.

Hg
and ask yourself if HgTX will appreaciate

Quote:

I am greatly relieved to see the men in this forum (particularly HgTX) putting the gender situation in perspective!
.
David

RE: Need an honest answer

Come on folks, lets act a little more civilized. The human race is comprised of both males & females. We need each other. My niece is graduating shortly with a degree in engineering. I fully expect that she will be welcomed into the profession. Shame on those who intend otherwise. Engineers are suposed to be intellectuals who are superior to the average person. Some of the chuvinistic attitudes that I have heard expressed on this forum as well as by fellow engineers at work have no place in the USA. Those who can't handle gender equality should contemplate a move to the more barbaric parts of this planet.

RE: Need an honest answer

Quote:

The human race is comprised of both males & females.

"It is true that there is very little difference between men and women, but Viva Le Difference!"--Voltaire

Quote:

Engineers are suposed to be intellectuals who are superior to the average person.

The same goes for Priests...'nuff said.

Quote:

My niece is graduating shortly with a degree in engineering. I fully expect that she will be welcomed into the profession.

Good for her!  What's her dicipline?  I am not in the position to hire anyone right now, but I think she'd get along OK in our shop...our problem is getting a qualified female to apply for an Engineering position.

I remain,

The Old Soldering Gunslinger

RE: Need an honest answer

I did not read all the responses, just the original questions.  I've worked with some fantastically talented female engineers over the 13 years I've been in the oil and gas and refinery business.

I have also seen the bad treatment of female engineers you mention.  In my experience, that was limited to a couple very older (one was 70) supervisors, and one who came from a culture that had differing views on women.

One thing I have noticed in the three companies I've worked for is that there are almost no senior female engineers.  It is almost impossible to find a female engineer still working in the technical positions with 15 or 20 years experience.  Uusally, I've seen a lot of the female engineers leave engineering for technical sales positions, or just leave engineering all together.  That is also why I have only seen one female engineering manager in 13 years.  

RE: Need an honest answer

After a female gets pats on the head when she has a good idea (or that idea magically appears in someone else's mouth) for 15 years, I imagine she would be looking for the exit sign.  Personally, I have hung on for 8 years out of sheer stubborness and refusing to give in to those who feel women shouldn't be engineers.  It doesn't matter how good you are at your job to some people.  The better you are the more some men resent you.

RE: Need an honest answer

Wow livingston, that is a strong point of view.  I would argue with your statement "The better you are the more some men resent you." and change that to The better you are the more people resent you.  It is a shame you feel the need to make that statement with a sexist connotation.  I struggle with men and women that resent me because I am a good engineer.  It is part of the business.  Associating this resentment to sex, creed, race, national origin, etc or anything else that has nothing to do with you as an engineer is a sign op weakness and maybe people are exploiting this weakness with you.

Bob

RE: Need an honest answer

BobPE,
You are both right and wrong.  A person who resents another person because the other person is better at the job that both of them do is simply the pettyness that is rife in humanity.

The manifestation of that resentment is almost never "I hate them because they are better than me" because that would make an emotionally small person feel small.  Consequently, the resentment comes across as sexism, racism, or other -ism's relating to religion, national origin, etc.  You'll often hear "she got my promotion because of a quota" (or an implication of sexual favors, etc.) when the person just can't admit to themself that she might have gotten the promotion because she has demonstrated superior ability.

In Oil & Gas the particular "ism" is often "shool-ism".  People who didn't go to the Colorado School of Mines often complain that people have advanced because of their ties to the "Royal Academy".  They won't accept that the education at Mines is a cut above most programs and the people who finish there are probably a cut more able than the run of the herd.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering
www.muleshoe-eng.com
Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips Fora.

The harder I work, the luckier I seem

RE: Need an honest answer

gabbott,

Heres how I see it, an Engineer, is an Engineer. be they male or female.  If you work for me and you are a good Engineer, I'll tell you, If your an idiot, I'll tell you.

Perhaps your boss has a deep rooted hatred of women because he didn't get a cuddle from his mum when he hurt his finger when he was a little boy, or maybe he doesn't like you, or maybe who knows.

Life is short, and the job is hard enough without carrying the burden of resent and hatred for somebody or something.

Find a new job where your skills and talents will be appreciated, and more importantly enjoy life and your family.

RE: Need an honest answer


EddyC wrote:

Some of the chuvinistic attitudes that I have heard expressed on this forum as well as by fellow engineers at work have no place in the USA. Those who can't handle gender equality should contemplate a move to the more barbaric parts of this planet.

I agree with you 100% and you rate a star for that, however, as a piece of wordly advice rather than an admonition, I would be careful with the "superior to the average person" attitude in most places even within the good ole U.S. of A   

RE: Need an honest answer

Yeah for Haggis and EddyC!  I just read an article on yahoo news about the controversy facing Saudi Arabian women.  Currently, they are not allowed to drive and a new law that will allow them this freedom is being met with GREAT opposition.  I can't imagine not being able to learn or practice as an engineer, let alone not being able to drive!!

RE: Need an honest answer

I did specify some men have that attitude and believe me it is real.  I left women out of the statement simply because in my experience most women (unless competing for the same advances) tend to support you.  I don't consider the response harsh so much as bitter.

RE: Need an honest answer

5
Honest answers.

I really don't like the part-timers, especially the "baby factories." Hmmm, "like" isn't the right word; "resent" - yep, that's it. I resent them because a) if they're on your project team, expect that their work isn't going to get done on time. b) if they're the project leader or manager, expect that you aren't going to get what you need. Once-a-week project meetings now will drag out into once-every-two-weeks, once-a-month, etc.

I particularly resent the bending-over-backwards management *seems* to do in their direction. I think it is discriminatory towards single people and childless people, et al. The worst offenders are the single moms who are righteous about their "situation" and, well, they are perfectly right in expecting that management will give them three months' off and thence three days a week in the office.

(To be fair: Reservist and Guardsmen who are called to duty, engineers put on long-term temporary assignments out-of-the-office, etc. are a different kettle of fish - apples and oranges, etc.)

It's really bad when you have a site visit and they have to come along... Now you're on their schedule and it is damned inconvenient if you need the team to stay an extra half hour on the site or whatever. I try (sometimes I'm successful) not to be involved with any project where a team member is working from home.

Call me sexist, male chauvanist or whatever. But my mom didn't work, she stayed home and raised three kids while my dad worked and kept the roof over our heads, food on the table, etc. My mother has a Ph.D. (though not in engineering), too. Once the kids were all out of the house in once form or another, she went back to work full-time. Is that right or wrong? I don't think we suffered from having mom at home all the time...

Regarding women engineers, as many have echoed here, just like male engineers, there are good and bad. One totally unfair advantage women have over men is that they are allowed to cry. Am I wrong, gentlemen?

I know women engineers (and non-engineers) who've cried their way out of (and into) various situations. If a guy turned on the water works because his hard drive crashed (bad example, it's ok to cry over that...) instead of cursing a blue streak, he'd lose the respect of the entire company. People will stay away from an angry man until he calms down; a crying women gets everyone's sympathy. Huge difference.

As a heterosexual man, I am genetically coded to be sexually attracted to the opposite sex. In a battle of man vs. nature, nature wins. The way to beat temptation is to FLEE IT. I am far more inclined to have a decent, professional relationship with a physically unattractive (and preferably older) female engineer than with a bombshell recent engineering graduate. It's also super intimidating if the "hottie" (sorry, ladies, this is the language men may use in the company of other men) happens to be brilliant. Not only does she have the looks, but she's going to be my boss one day... Or worse, she's going to have kids and be one of those damned part-timers and I'll be stuck on a team with her. The team meetings, with her on the phone, of course, will include how she's doing, what it's like working at home, how taking care of a kid is a full-time job (duh...), etc. And if she doesn't have the hardware and software the rest of us have, we'll just e-mail back and forth.

The ultimate kicker is if she has an affair with one (or more) of my coworkers - or me. And what about the not-as-attractive female coworkers? Boy, you want resentment? You want jealousy? At least the part-timers can stay home and watch the soap opera instead of making their own in the office. Office cat-fights are not fun in the least...

You wanted honesty!

RE: Need an honest answer

Ya know, I've been trying to be all reasonable and logical in this thread, but screw it.  

I cannot believe the kind of crap I am hearing on this thread.

"Call me sexist, male chauvanist (sic) or whatever"

Okay, you're sexist, male chauvinist, and whatever.

I suggest you go to a high school class and give a talk at career day.  Better let all the girls know what's really out there.  Maybe it will result in there being significantly fewer of them coming along in our particular career path to be a bother unto you.

Why is it that examples of unsatisfactory behavior on the part of women are consider ample justication for sexist attitudes toward all women, but if I were to hold up multiple examples of male incompetence or jackassery as reasons why men really ought not to be engineers, I'd be thought of as nuts?

And why is it when men find themselves distracted around women they find attractive, it's the women's fault just for having the gall to exist, rather than the men's for not having the discipline to control themselves?  "Oh, poor me, I just can't control my urges."  Bullhockey.  Plenty of men can, quite well.

I suppose in an ideal world, there would be a panel convened at all hirings to judge whether a woman is sufficiently unattractive to be a functional team member, and she better bring along that proof of tubal ligation or menopause just to prove she ain't about to go run off to be a breeder.

You make me sick.

And angry.

And disappointed.

I really had thought things had changed since my mother's time.  Apparently I've been living in a happy little world of illusion, and the attitudes of the 1960s are still with us.

I'm trying to think of something useful to get out of this thread, other than just thinking, "Jeez, there are some real %^&*ing $%^&s out there."  Or "Gosh golly, I'm so goshdurn cute that I'm surely interfering with these manly men's job performance.  I better just resign from engineering and spare them."  The closet I can come up with to a reasonable response is to stop trusting all the men I work with, cuz for all I know they all have the same going on inside their heads as Viking, and they're all just gritting their teeth and barely tolerating me.  

But that doesn't sound like a very productive path for me to take, so what good is this thread doing me, or anyone?

Hg

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RE: Need an honest answer

"closet" should be "closest", of course.  "Closet" brings in yet another set of issues...

Hg

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RE: Need an honest answer

Star for that Hg, nice to see some logic. However, I do have a real problem with some 3 day a week part timers, from both sexes. I also have problems with 5 day a week full timers of both sexes. I guess I'm just an equal opportunities grump.

 

Cheers

Greg Locock

Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

RE: Need an honest answer

Wow, I'm surprised that we aren't tripping over people uncontrollably having sex in the office every day!

So much for civilized behavior, Ten Commandments and the law...

Apparently, some people are genetically coded for a couple of other things as well...

TTFN

RE: Need an honest answer

WOW, IRstuff!! You just went out and said it! A star for you!  I thought copulating in public places was for high school students (like in the bathrooms and behind the band building)!  
And thank you, Mr. DaveVikingPE for your honest answer.  I'll have to watch out for guys like you...

RE: Need an honest answer

DaveVikingPE:

Brutally honest, and obviously not what people want to hear.  Another brutally honest truth, that people do not want to hear.

World War II revamped the USA economy entirely.  Women entered the workforce in droves to backfill for all the men who had to leave their jobs for military service.  This allowed America's industrial might to have an overwhelming effect in favor of the Allies.

However, after World War II was over, the workforce did not return to it's prewar mix of the sexes.  And families suffered in direct proportion to the absence of the mother from the home nest.

One direct result of this (although the absence of women in the home was certainly not the only cause), was the drop-out culture of the 60's where cultural values were turned topsy-turvy in a hedonistic search via drugs and sex for fulfillment.  About the only good thing that came from that time was that the nation finally came to grips with the need to stop making blacks second class citizens.

But the bottom line is, women absent from the home hurt the nation, and sadly, hurt women as well.  From this came the feminist movement which has consistently attempted to destroy marriage and family, a backbone of our culture and our nation.

I believe it is a natural instinct for a mother to want to be with her children (and I applaud those who do), and I believe that some women today answer that instinct by asking for part-time instead of full time.  The downside is that some managers will not give critical projects to part time workers, which I believe was one of the original issues in this forum.

If the higher goal of our culture is "woman empowerment", then our culture is on the right track.  In my personal opinion, I do not believe that should be our higher goal.  Preservation of the family should take precedence, and no human being in the world can have a greater or longer lasting positive effect on any nation than a woman and mother showing her children how to live.

The man has his responsibilities as well, and just as important, to the family.  HgTX clearly indicated one of them when he ridiculed men who "cannot get their brains above their belt" in the workplace.  But the most critical is to provide an environment where the family is safe, nurtured and prepared for.  Tough to do when the entire economy is now geared (mostly through taxation) to at least a two (or more) income family.

RE: Need an honest answer

I definitely applaud those women who stay at home with their families and the husbands who work very hard to support them all.  

BUT...

...for those smart women engineers who may or may not have families or husbands (for whatever reason), it is not ANY person's business to treat them unfairly, or withold promotions, projects, etc. because they believe that the woman should stay in the home instead.  Personally, if I had the privledge of mothering children, I would want to stay home with them if possible, but right now, I would appreciate equal and fair opportunities proportional to my abilities.  It is unfair for women to unjustly play the "sexist" card, but it is also unfair for men to play the "corruption of society due to the absense of mothers in the home" card!

RE: Need an honest answer



DaveViking wrote:

I am far more inclined to have a decent, professional relationship with a physically unattractive (and preferably older) female engineer than with a bombshell recent engineering graduate.

The ultimate kicker is if she has an affair with one (or more) of my coworkers - or me.


Let me ask, is there something wrong with you? Don't you trust yourself because of your neandrathal thinking, and then your next thought is that she might be partial to laying prone on the boardroom table. Or is that just wishful thinking on your part?.

Then after spouting about the backbone of our culture and nation, moral fibre etc., debodine writes:

About the only good thing that came from that time (the sixties) was that the nation finally came to grips with the need to stop making blacks second class citizens..

Look around. That has not yet been fully accomplished and probably never will be. Pity the focus of this was not aimed at women also. They might have been a little further ahead than they are today.

All gabbot asked was a simple question





RE: Need an honest answer

And all this time I thought Dinosaurs were extinct....


Bob

RE: Need an honest answer

haggis:

You are correct...all gabbott asked was a question, though you and I might disagree on its simplicity.  To assist gabbott in sorting out what things of value to take from this forum and which things to reject, I offered a "big picture" theory of the last few decades of cultural change.  It is my belief that this would provide background that can explain what gabbott is experiencing at work with regard to important projects.  Whether gabbott finds anything of value in my theory or not, I offered it for gabbott's benefit.

Zo40:

You have excellent communication skills.  You first found an area of agreement with my ideas (to establish positive communication) and then you clearly, concisely, and intelligently stated your reasons for what you believe and also strongly established where you believe I am wrong.  And you made me think about a point of view I had not considered.  Bravo!  My respect for you has certainly increased.

RE: Need an honest answer

For the most part, the mother-at-home concept is mostly a myth with respect to urbanites.  

Until child labor laws were passed at the turn of the last century, children and mothers were often sent out to work to make ends meet.  

Even on the farm, children were sent out to work in the fields whenever additional workers were needed.  Old stories abound, about mothers giving birth in the fields.

The whole concept of child coming home to a mother waiting with cookies and a glass of milk seems to me to be wholly a creation of 1950's TV.

TTFN

RE: Need an honest answer

Excellent point, IRstuff.  Throughout society from ancient times (usually an agrarian society) in fact the father, mother and children often worked together in the family business, whether farming or otherwise.

Fathers AND mothers were often both available to pass on values and teach skills and interpersonal relationships to the children.  Specifically speaking about the US, we lost the father's close proximity when the industrial age arrived, and the mother's close proximity when World War II arrived.

In both cases, I believe our society lost something of value, and the losers were the children.

I have raised my children (27, 25 and 21) now and can't go back.  But the few years I was able to work from my home while my wife homeschooled were the happiest and most beneficial to our children that we can recall.  And our children have stated that same idea to us, on several occasions.

If I had the power to go back, I would have developed some type of business that kept me at home with my family permanently.  But we were most fortunate that my wife was able to stay home, by her own desire and choice.




RE: Need an honest answer



i try to lump everyone in to one 'stupid-people pool' with a hierarchy of smaller 'stupid-people pools' within...

prejudice can be a powerful thing, as long as you deal it out with an even hand...once you get everyone on the same level of incompentency, the cream really rises to the top...no matter what color, shape, or gender, the smart ones you notice right off...

as far as women getting to work part time to take care of kids, i'd like to work part time and take care of my golf game and sharpen up my alcohol tolerance...maybe spend a little MORE time at Hooters(restaurant)...


am i management material or what?


nad3ooo

RE: Need an honest answer

But, I think there is a difference between having working parents and the no-longer PC term "quality time."  

If working fathers were, and are, able to perform their fatherly duties to their offspring, then, likewise, working mothers should also be able to do so.

The difference is "quality time."  Too many people work longer than 8 hrs, bring their work home with them, or come home and vegetate watching sports or other TV.  Too many parents expect schools to teach everything to their children.  Too many parents don't spend enough time telling their children that they love them.

TTFN

RE: Need an honest answer

DaveVikingPE,

I feel that the things that you stated above about women in the workforce were absolutely out of line. I find myself completely in agreement with HgTX's opinions regarding your posting. What is with you? A woman carried you inside her body for 9 months and gave birth to you (and with physical pain).

debodine,

I would not want to be in a relationship with a woman who was not capable of economically supporting herself. How would I know that she loves me for who I am rather than because she needs me to financially support her?

HgTX,

I am male and on behalf of the male gender, I offer an apology to you for the offensive comments made by my fellow males.

RE: Need an honest answer

One thing interesting occurred today.  

A young female engineer came to work in a sleeveless, neckless blouse and a VERY sheer floor-length skirt, but you could see that she wasn't wearing anything more than a thong.

An interesting situation:

>  Dress definitely at the 1-3 sigma end, even for her
>  Distracting definitely, but would that justify complaining about her dress?
>  Who would normally teach her about appropriate dress for work?
>  Is it appropriate dress?

TTFN

RE: Need an honest answer

IRStuff--

No one's visible underwear, male or female, is appropriate dress for work.  And actually I'd bet she wasn't really planning for the thong to be showing.  Safest for you to sic a female on her, though.  Unless you can really pull off the embarrassed grandfatherly approach.  ("Young lady, did you realize that...um...well...your...um...underthings are showing?")

Sleeveless & neckless...not as big a deal in my book, though I'd file it under "casual".  Last I checked, shoulders weren't secondary sex characteristics.  Sometimes women get to show bits (like knees) that men don't get to show.  The fashion world is run by men anyway, so yez can't complain.

Visible underwear, though, nope.


But what I really came here to say is that between Greg (and others with limited patience for part-timers) and debodine, they bring up a worthy point of debate.

On the one hand, it is more difficult to work with part-timers (male or female) than with those who make themselves available more often, more regularly, more freely.  It's an understandable prejudice.  On the other hand, a flexible work structure (for both men and women who might want it) that supports families can be seen as a fine societal value.

I gots no quick answers.  I know there are plenty of anecdotal stories about flextime, jobsharing, etc. working incredibly well, just as there are horror stories.  I don't know which is more common.  Is there necessarily a conflict between effective workplace and support of healthy family structure?

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer

Well, I was trying not to be too graphic.  There was a considerable amount of cleavage visible.



I'm single-parenting at the moment, so while I don't get any direct resentment for not putting in the hours, there's definitely a bit of undercurrent there.  Luckily, I've got some Teflon.

TTFN

RE: Need an honest answer

On my first day of my placement on site, I wore a high-necked sleeveless top. The site manager told me that the lads on site weren't allowed to wear sleeveless tops because they looked scruffy and while ladies sleeveless tends to be somewhat smarter, the rules have to apply across the board. Seemed fair enough to me.

On the other hand, in my previous job, a fellow young lady elected to wear clothes on site that I would have reserved for a night club. Her site manager was decidedly uncomfortable whenever she showed her 'T-bar pants' (thong showing over the top of trousers) and the depth of cleavage on show became the subject of a sweepstake amongst the more uncouth members of the team! It was assumed that I, as one of her peers, would have a word, but I'm ashamed to say the bitching and joking was too much fun and I did nothing. But then again, she really should have been aware how inappropriate it was.

RE: Need an honest answer

EddyC:

Your point about not wanting to be in a relationship with a woman who cannot economically support herself is understandable, and is clearly a criterion for you in your life choices.  In fact my wife had three years experience and training in the Air Force before we started having children, so she could have continued in the work force.  It was our mutually agreed choice (her choice, but with my full support).  So my personal situation lends support to your point.

HgTX and I have occasionally disagreed on ideas in the past.  From my limited experience on this forum, I find that HgTX is very intelligent, has strong beliefs, expresses those beliefs eloquently, and is clearly capable of requesting an apology.

Therefore, may I respectfully suggest that I do not need you to apologize for me to someone else.  If I have offended YOU, then you can ask me for an apology (which you will not receive in this case, because honest opinions were requested, and an honest opinion was offered).

I find myself agreeing with you, EddyC, and HgTX, and most others that post in these forums on many, many more ideas than I find myself in disagreement, both directly related to engineering and not directly related.  I am more than willing to take ideas and opinions from the posts of others, learn from them, and refrain from apologizing as a third party for them when I disagree.

I will never know if any of the ideas I expressed were of value to gabbott or not, but responding to the request for honest opinions was my goal.



RE: Need an honest answer

I knew there was a good reason for many company's FRC (long sleeve buttoned to the neck shirt, long pants, fire retardant) clothing, steel-toed boot, and hard hat policy - there are people in the world who need boundaries.

David

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering
www.muleshoe-eng.com
Please see FAQ731-376 for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips Fora.

The harder I work, the luckier I seem

RE: Need an honest answer

"And actually I'd bet she wasn't really planning for the thong to be showing."

I would respectfully disagree.  Most that I've seen in public wearing such outfits as described above knew exactly that their thong was showing.  It was part of the "outfit".  Most companies have dress codes for a reason, there is always someone who will push the envelope and dress inappropriately.

My wife got to stay home 2 years w/ our firstborn and a year w/ our second.  FWIW, it was good for her and great for the boys.  I just wish we had planned better and made better choices financially so she could have stayed at home until they started elementary school.  Parenting in itself is a full-time job and working full-time too just to survive, parenting often suffers, so we have to both make a conscious effort to spend quality time w/ our boys.  No one said life was easy.

Brian
Pressure Vessels and Autoclave Systems
www.mcabeeconstruction.com

The above comments/opinions are solely my own and not those of McAbee Construction.

RE: Need an honest answer

At the risk of getting flak from both genders, I will comment on the situation that IRStuff encountered concerning the lady with the thong.

Dress in the workplace for females may fall into five basic categories.

1.    Extremely business like. Lilith in Frazier for example.
2.    Femininely attractive
3.    Slightly distracting
4.    Provocative.
5.    Dowdy

Having said that, the individual perception of the above, especially 2, 3, and 4 is in the eye of the beholder but comments or opinions among coworkers, male or female, should be curtailed.  I might add however, that over the years, I have seen female coworkers who preferred category 1 and were extremely attractive indeed.  Catagories 2 and 3, well, I may be nearing 60 but I’m not yet dead. Nuff said.  No.4, I think our esteemed female colleagues know where the line between 3 and 4 lies. No.5, if they are comfortable, fine.

Regardless of the circumstance, on no occasion, whether it be in the workplace, over lunch or a business dinner, should one’s personal observances of the  female colleagues form regardless of dress mode, be communicated to her in any way, veiled or otherwise.  Again, there are individual opinions on this and what one man sees as a seemingly harmless compliment about “looking nice in that sweater”, can only be construed as “I can’t help but notice how well endowed you are”.  As I said, I’m not yet dead but such observances I keep to myself.

In conclusion, we should all welcome our female colleagues to the workplace as they have earned it, ultimately deserve it and it is our place to treat them as equals. They are after all, professionals and should have our respect as such.

RE: Need an honest answer

I have been following this post and it has been a great learning experience.  I do agree with most that it is difficult to work with people who work part time.  However, I have found that it is not because they are working part time that is causing the problem, it is not clearly communicating our expectations (on both sides) or compromising that creates tension.  

I wonder how those that feel that women are doing a disservice to the engineering profession by working part time, would feel if they broke a leg, required stress leave or had a loved one pass away if they received the same sentiment.  Those things all require a leave of absence followed by part time, or an erratic work schedule.  Wouldn’t it be a turn of the tables if someone told you that they thought you were a detriment to the company / project for wanting to slow down your schedule and you shouldn’t be working if that’s the way you want to live your life?

No matter what you do, you have to work in situations and with people that are different from you physically, emotionally and morally.  What difference does it make if it is a man or a woman?  The only difference I see is that the woman is expected to bear the responsibility of raising the family, and the man is expected to work.

Gabbott, you posed a great question.  I think that there are a lot of women, and perhaps some men, that wonder and question their abilities because of this issue, and I have often questioned it myself, with regards to starting a family. Unfortunately, some workplaces and people are not as flexible as others.

Hiebs

RE: Need an honest answer


hiebs has been following this thread and has brought the focus back to gabbots question while the most of us got on our high horse and went off on a tangent including myself.

The wonder, in gabbots mind that gender is playing a part in her advancement or lack of it, is quite natural I think, considering that prejudice abounds everywhere in one form of another.

I'm quite sure that gabbot does not expect a project to be halted or even slowed because she is working only 2 or 3 days a week. She is also clearly making no rumblings about receiving preferential treatment because of gender.

RE: Need an honest answer

There is friction on the jobs I am working on due to staff working to different timescales. Half of the staff are local and originally based in this office and generally work between 9 and 4 with a flexitime system in place so they can accrue hours and take days off. The other half of the team have relocated from other offices and so generally arrive Monday lunchtime, work 8 till 6 during the week and leave Friday lunchtime to go back to their homes. There are frequent snide comments from the local brigade implying the travelling brigade are part time and have a habit of arranging meetings for 9 o'clock on a Monday morning. The travelling brigade retaliate by making decisions towards the end of their day and forgetting that the locals weren't involved and not telling them what was decided.

So even people working full time can suffer the discrimination faced by people working part time.

RE: Need an honest answer

debodine--I have a feeling you're not the one Eddy was apologizing for.  

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer

gh^4,

Just depends.  I cut my hours back to 35hr/wk to be able to get my kids to/from school, but I'm involved in more projects than I can deal with.

Obviously, it's a market demand thing.  If you have what others want, they won't mind waiting in line.

TTFN

RE: Need an honest answer

HgTX:

Point taken.  You have an affinity for thinking things through, a methodology that I strive for and only sometimes achieve.

In any case, I had not previously considered EddyC's viewpoint about the economic earning potential of a life partner versus motivation to remain in a relationship, and therefore he opened my perspective.  And for that, I am grateful to EddyC.  Kinda ironic that my own life situation supported his point.  

haggis is correct, hiebs seeks to refocus us all on gabbott's original question.  And I also agree with haggis that gabbott is showing maturity and wisdom for inquiring to improve the situation rather than grousing.

To that end, I would like to review and comment on a statement gabbott made, in the hopes of increasing her store of knowledge.

gabbott stated in her original post, "Also I feel my boss doesn't like working with me. Every project I have worked on with him, he transfers the job to someone else eventually (mostly male engineers, but he did once give one job to another female engineer). What gives?"

To which I would like to suggest:  Is there any possibility that the boss considers gabbott an exceptional engineer who can start a project and get the direction and the big engineering choices right, and then he can hand off the project to perhaps less capable engineers who then do the detailed finish work that gabbott planned?  This would free up the boss to put his best "starter" on the next hot project, if that is how he sees gabbott.

gabbott, is there any chance that this is the explanation?

RE: Need an honest answer

I believe that gabbott knows more about her problems than anyone else who posted here when she said I tend to work a little slow due to trying to be a perfectionist and I can come off as timid.  Even if she worked full time, is this the type of Engineer you would give the “Big Important Jobs” to?  Perhaps someone could come up with some tips about changing the Excessive-Compulsive Personality behavior that is associated with being a perfectionist.  

RE: Need an honest answer

Coming off as timid...there's a classic female stereotype.  Not to say that all women are this way or that way, but women are much more likely to come off as timid.  Much more likely to use hedge words like "I think" and "maybe" even when they're sure.  (It's a documented linguistic tendency.  That does not mean that all women talk in this way or that no men do.)

If a woman has that kind of speech pattern but her listener is more used to the patterns more typical of men (note that I do not call them "male speech patterns"), she is all the more likely to be perceived as not really knowing what she's doing.  Unfortunately, it doesn't breed much confidence.

I feel that in this case it is up to the woman to adapt her speech patterns to fit the male world she is entering, rather than having the men understand more about what those speech patterns do or don't mean.

Perhaps some assertiveness training or even public speaking training is in order?  If you're seen as a kickass engineer despite your part-time status, your part-time status will be tolerated much better.


Perfectionism is another story.  I work with some perfectionists.  Actually, I don't work with them much.  I avoid them, because if I need an answer, I can't afford to wait several weeks while they make absolutely sure.  So I go to other sources instead.

That doesn't mean do a half-assed job.  That means do a partial job full-assedly--what you do get done needs to be right, but maybe not to the level of detail that you'd like.  Get as far as you can in the time you're expected to take, and then explain what you still need to do.  Maybe you're going into more detail than you need to?  Maybe there are shortcuts you can take that others can show you?  Maybe there are some time-saving programs you can write for calculations, or software you can use?  Or maybe you need to learn to trust your own judgement a little more and only double-check instead of quintuple-checking?  

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer

I tend to be assertive and use "male speech patterns" when I talk about technical details, etc, but it is often interpreted as me being a "smart-ass" whereas my male-coworkers with the same assertiveness in their speech are "confident."  What gives?  (Sorry to go on another tangent, but someone brought it up)

RE: Need an honest answer

Working slow is DEFINITELY a serious issue.  As HgTX says, a faster "good enough" answer is more often the maximum required, sad though it may be.

From an overall perspective, THAT ALONE, may be sufficient to be limiting your opportunities now.  Attention to detail is often associated with not seeing the "BIG PICTURE."  This means that if I were your manager, I'd be concerned about giving you a more managerial role for fear of having you get bogged down in minutiae, instead of focusing on the the overall program goals.

If you really want to get those types of assignments, you'll need to proactive and demonstrate that you have knowledge of and understand the competing requirements of cost, technical and schedule.  Once you have demonstrated your ability to adequately tradeoff those items, you should be getting more assignments in that arena.  

TTFN

RE: Need an honest answer

IR and Hg are definitely on target with their current point about speed versus completeness.  For gabbott's benefit, in my experience a substantial portion of the value of an engineer to a company/project/boss/customer is their ability to distinguish which parts of a project deserve highly detailed, in-depth research and which parts deserve a less detailed amount of research.

Good judgment in this area typically results in projects where the critical issues are thoroughly considered and the desired schedule is met, assuming other factors outside the control of the engineer do not negate their efforts.

A star to both Hg and IR for their contribution.

RE: Need an honest answer

a humorous aside to the speed versus completeness issue was a sign above the chair of one of my favorite production gurus, to which he would point as a way of greeting me each time I entered his office.  The sign?

THERE COMES A TIME IN EVERY PROJECT WHEN YOU HAVE TO SHOOT THE ENGINEER AND START PRODUCTION!

RE: Need an honest answer

Zo40--better a smartass than a mouse.  People think I'm a smartass too, but that's because I am.  I'm sure that in some situations I'd have done better by being more diplomatic, but overall, Not Knowing My Place has gotten me pretty far.

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer

As with the subject of appropriate dress, there is the question of appropriate language and audience.

Since you would not speak about 3rd grade level to 1st graders, you need to know your audience and skew your message accordingly.  Some people respond to humor and sarcasm and others are are simply humor-challenged.

TTFN

RE: Need an honest answer

HgTX,
It's encouraging to know that it is possible to benefit from being a smartass.  That's good because I wasn't planning on changing my speech or attitude, anyways.

IRstuff,
You are absolutely right about talking to the level of your audience.  I am a very sarcastic person, but there are some people I wouldn't dare joke around because they may take those sort of comments seriously.

RE: Need an honest answer

Zo40--Another thought:

You say that others are seen as "confident" while you are seen as "smartass".  

There's a common complaint that the same behavior that gets men labeled as confident gets women labeled as "strident".  It all has to do with what traits people expect you to have; when they're predisposed to think of you a certain way, they're more likely to do so.  The flip side of that could be that in some of the cases where you might come off as "strident", a male might come off as "arrogant".  In my experience, arrogance is a trait people are more prepared to see in men.  I'd rather be thought of as strident than arrogant any day.


And back to a subthread from last month about who can tell what jokes to whom--at lunch today, a manager from my office wouldn't tell a joke in front of me with a naughty word in the punchline, even though I already knew the joke.  So I offered to deliver the punchline myself after he told the rest of the joke, and that was acceptable.  Go figure.

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer

Some people find certain types of jokes or topics humorous while others find them offensive. It always important to know the people that you are telling them to and to know their boundaries. This issue goes beyond male and female, even though there are certain trends in speech acceptability with the genders.

RE: Need an honest answer

Wow!  lots of opinions.  I am a male manager and have two women in my group--they are excellent and any male boss who has a problem treating women as equals needs to be gotten rid of--through human resources.  I think if he is reasonable the following logic applies:  Most bosses put people on projects they trust well enough to "be on the critical path"  That is the enviable position where the success and failure of a project depends very highly on that individual's performance.  

You can be on the critical path and not work 60 hours a week.  You will have trouble being on the critical path and work much less than 30 hours/week.  Four days a week should not impact anything if you are an efficient worker.

Perhaps he thinks there is a risk you will leave or cut your hours more.  If that is the case it is a perception problem--point out that you consistently at work, you tend to take less PTO than full-timers, you finish your projects on-time, etc.  Also tell him you will give him plenty of warning if you need to curtail hours more or are planning on leaving the company--as long as the stuff I say is true this should reassure him.

Most of all create a communication channel of trust and respect--sometimes just saying, "I want to be more challenged and follow tasks from beginning to end, rather than have to continually hand off my work to others." will do the trick.  

Most people are not insecure, conniving, petty bastards waiting at every opportunity to injure others or to further their own position at the expense of others.  If you think he is not one of these, then be open and honest.

John

RE: Need an honest answer

If you work slow and you work part time, you're not going to be put on the critical path, no matter how good the work you do is.

RE: Need an honest answer

As a woman in a project management role, I use my advantages to the fullest.  If I have a "stupid" question, the guys on the shop floor are a lot more patient with me asking it than they would be if I were a male asking the same question.  I'd be an idiot to not use all of the advantages there are for a woman in this type of position.  Sure, I sometimes get treated as less capable than I am, but you know what? I've seen men treated the same way, so I dont see it being that big of an issue.  Obviously there are men out there that have a difficult time working with women, but I have noticed there are many women who have a hard time working with other women as well.  My experience is that it boils down to your willingness to learn and improve from your successes and mistakes, your knowledge base, your people skills, and doing your job well that will get you respect in the workplace...not an appendage or lack of one.

My two cents.

RE: Need an honest answer

I just found this thread yesterday.  And to my surprise I have read the entire length of it!  It has been a very interesting read.  I'm a woman structural engineer.  When I first started working I was very surprised to not find a lot of tension due to my being a woman (a young petite one at that time also).  The men in the office usually treated me the upmost respect, and more like their "granddaughter or daughter".  They taught me a lot about how to be a good engineer and detailer, and they remain my friends to this day.  At the second office I worked at (for the same company) it took me 3-6months to gain the respect of all of my co-workers.  They had worked with a female engineer who I found out later was their least favorite person.  In time I won them over, and they came to respect me as the qualified engineer that I am.  The field men were a different situation sometimes.  I had to prove myself to them, and that occurs still becuase with each new project comes a new set of GC's to work with (some nicer than others).

Even so I do find myself wondering how others see me as a female engineer.  I think women tend to focus more on how they are perceived by others.  It's a built in thing.  Women are generally speaking more "relational", which is why we also hold the valued role of being "mom".  It can also make us great managers becuase we are more likely to consider the feelings and personalities of employees and co-workers.  This same trait can also hold us back.  Many of us won't ask for raises or toot our own horn becuase we are concerned about how we will be perceived.  This is something I have struggled with.  It took my last job change to really prove to me that I have real value in the workplace; reading my own resume also helped me to understand my worth.

I imagine that this is something gabbot also struggles with.  I'd like to encourage you to keep a "brag folder".  I keep a folder with all of my accomplishments and any written praises recieved (you could even write down spoken ones).  Whenever I doubt myself I go back to that folder.  My past employers were also big on self evaluation.  We'd review ourselves and then meet with the boss who also completed the evaluation using the same sheet after we turned ours in.  This was the hardest thing to do the first time, but it really helps you to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses.  I'd also list at least three goals to work on on the self evaluation sheet.

I'd like to thank all you men who are supportive of women in the workplace.  I agree most with debodine (specifically his June 6 9:57 post), which some women may find hard to do.  The women's lib. movement did achieve a lot for women, but I also think they took things too far.  My generation of women have a LOT to live up to.  We're expected to do it all.  Be a mom, a wife and a work full time, giving all three areas 100%.  I never really understood it until I had my son.  He's now 6months old.  I'm still working, and the larger wage earner in my home, which makes it much more diffcult to go to a one income family.  If it were a perfect world I would work part-time doing engineering, which I LOVE by the way.  Financially it would not be a problem, but unfortunately, it is not common in my industry, and not looked highly upon either.  Once you have childern women are viewed differently and this is not always the case if you are a man.  

I think what I'd most like men to know is that women in engineering are here because we enjoy the work, and take pride in our work (for the most part...I know there are those women out there giving us a bad name).  What's the difference if we are doing it part-time so long as we still do the job well and on time?  

I wish it were more acceptable in society, for men and women, to have a better life work balance.  That said I do not feel it the the goverments responsiblity to make it the law, but rather the companies to step up to the plate becuase happy employees are hard working dedicated employees.

In the meantime, I really consider myself blessed.  My parents and in-laws keep my son during the day and they are both close enough to my job that I see him everyday at lunch.  I also don't have an OT, and I am with a family friendly office.  I'm still hoping a part-time opportunity will open up for me though, at least while my son is young.  

That's more than 2cents, but you could have stopped reading if it was too long.  

RE: Need an honest answer

One last thought, going back to HgTX's comment,

"I would not want to be in a relationship with a woman who was not capable of economically supporting herself. How would I know that she loves me for who I am rather than because she needs me to financially support her?"

I think that is a sad comment, and also a double edged sword don't you think?  If a woman can support herself wouldn't that also mean she could up and leave you whenever things got tough and know she could make it without you?  I definatly could if I so desired, but that is not who I am as a person.

To me marriage is sacred.  It comes down to the level of committment you have.  Whether the wife can support herself or not is really not the issue.  Society leads you to believe that divorce is OK, but the children pay the price.  What really makes a marriage is having the backbone to stick it out even when you don't feel like it, and keeping the committments you make to each other.  You vow to spend your life with your spouse; you don't even promise your boss that.  It's the most important committment in your life other than raising a child.  Many people give that committment of unconditional love to their children easily, but have a much harder time doing so with their spouses.

Just a thought...

RE: Need an honest answer

To echo astructurale's thoughts on marriage: my grandfather once told me:

"Don't marry the girl you want to live with. Marry the one girl you can't live without."

A sentiment from a bygone age perhaps, but a nice one none the less.

----------------------------------

If we learn from our mistakes,
I'm getting a great education!

RE: Need an honest answer

'Twasn't my comment.

Hg

Eng-Tips guidelines:  FAQ731-376

RE: Need an honest answer

astructurale,

The comment about not wanting to be in a relationship with a woman who wasn't capable of supporting herself was mine (Note that I said CAPABLE, and not necessarily working full time continuously throughout life). I don't understand why you have a problem with this comment. Take a second look at some of the posts that I made. You will find that I am a supporter of women in the engineering workforce. I also have a niece (my cousin's daughter) who just graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering. I certainly want the profession of which I am a part to welcome her.

RE: Need an honest answer

Sorry Hg, my oops!!  So many posts, I rushed a bit...

EddyC,

I did see that you are a supporter of women in engineering, and my comment regarding a woman supporting her self was not related to that issue.  Please don't think that I did not notice that!  I wish your neice the best of luck in her career, and commend your support of her in her endevors!

Regarding the issue of a woman being "capable" of supporting herself.  I suppose it is likely that you are referring to a personality type rather than a woman showing this trait by her working, which is how I took it on first read.  I do agree with one being "capable".  No one wants to marry a slacker who's sole purpose in life is to have someone carry their "dead weight" around and just want you for the money.    If that's what you meant, then I just read into your comment a little too far before, and I appologize.   I like to think that my being a capable woman was one of the reasons my hubby married me.

RE: Need an honest answer

Thanks astructurale. You're right, I did mean a personality type when I said "capable". More power to you at home and in the office.

RE: Need an honest answer

Having dated another engineering student throughout school, we talked about one of us taking time off when each kid was born, and one of us staying home full time at some point until the kids were in school. Then after they were in school going to 3/4th time until they were in middle school.  Now since we both recently graduated and were looking for jobs, and our resumes were fairly equal, was it ethically ok not to mention to potential employers interviewing both of us which one of us planned to take between 3 months and 5 years off?   It seems to me that since we were both equally qualified, it might come down to probability of which of us would work more time.

Where I work now, one of the best engineers is a woman who just switched to part time.  She has always been well organized and on schedule, so while scheduling meetings can be troublesome, she is still great to work with.

RE: Need an honest answer

bacon4life:  Your post skillfully manages to hide whether you'd be the mother or father of said children.  Nicely done - kind of puts the whole thread into context.

RE: Need an honest answer

bacon4life,
Yes, it is ethically ok not to metion that you or your spouse will be taking 3months and 5 years off.  While this is your plan you do not know what the future holds for you, or who will be making the most money when the time comes.  Also, you may not even still be at that same job when the time comes.  You never know.

I'd like to commend the decision that you and your spouse are making regarding raising your children.  I also wish you luck when the time does come to start your family!

RE: Need an honest answer

Hi, fans!

Interesting thread...

One thing: I don't act like Andrew Dice Clay in the office. Those who do usually end up on the wrong end of a sexual harassment lawsuit (rightly so, too). Deep inside I *might* think like Dice Man - who doesn't? anyone watch the TV shows these days? Wow! Am I ever owed an apology for my behavior in high school, because I didn't even come close to what's "normal" on TV - but I certainly leave all that out of the office.

I would caution any women engineers out there against siding with "sensitive" guys. My honestly might not make me friends, but you've been given fair warning. Those sensitive guys, on the other hand are the ones you'll discover doing things in the office to and with the women you'd never think they would... Case in point, the last President of the US and his intern...

Caveat emptor, ladies!

RE: Need an honest answer

I'm a sensitive guy Dave. You'll never see me doing "things" with anyone in the office or with any strange people. I also don't care how other people sexually interact with each other, even Mr Clinton, and I wasn't a big fan of his. Most of the non-sensitive men that I have met over the years were not nice people. They may have some good qualities, but overall are a liability to the human race. I also know quite a few "alpha" females who would love to get in your face and tell you exactly how they feel about your views towards women.

RE: Need an honest answer


So basically, "Nice Guy" EddyC, messing around with a coworker - in the office, during work hours (which is what President Clinton did), is acceptable behavior to you because you don't care how other people sexually interact with each other? Nice try... but masquerading as someone so open-minded that their brains fall out isn't gaining points with the ladies...

What if the boss gives promotions to his mistress for her favors? (Which is what President Clinton had Vernon Jordan do)? Chaulk that up to "...I don't care..."?

And "nice" guys are the liability to the human race.  Their real name is "human doormats." And before the posers here jump on me (wrongheadedly) let me say that there's an infinite gulf between "nice" and "decent." A "decent guy," like myself, knows the rules, knows the boundaries, knows his limitations, and follows them accordingly.

Then again, there's this TV show called "Beauty and the Geek" and it seems that dorky, engineer-type guys are, in fact, hooking up with "babes" (are they not???!!!) using the "nice guy" schtick. Plus they're making bank for it. Strange world we live in.

RE: Need an honest answer

DaveVikingPE:  Are you married??  Must not be.  They say nice guys finish last, but I'll bet you they finish with the best prizes.  I'd never have married a guy who is not nice, and I certaintly have more respect for those who are nice.  Also, nice guys are not all pushovers.  Based on your "5 Jun 05 19:24" post I'd agree that you don't fit that description of nice, and that's sad for you.

I've worked under BOTH types as bosses and dated both types also.  Trust me, the nice guys are the best guys out there.  So keep being nice EddyC, men and women alike can respect that.

RE: Need an honest answer

DaveVikingPE,

I thought that what our former president did was disgusting. But I simply don't believe in getting involved in other peoples personal matters. The behavior between Mr Clinton and Ms Lewinski was a consentual & legal act between 2 adults. How can I as a stranger possibly know what is in their hearts and what their feelings and motivations are? Mr Clinton would not be welcome at my house. Ms Lewinski would be, but only as a guest (and I DO NOT mean in a sexual way). Unfortunately 75% of the men that I meet would act exactly like Mr Clinton (but not me).

astructurale,

I will keep being a nice guy to the folks that I interact with. I will make exceptions, however, to people who don't behave themselves.

RE: Need an honest answer

My People!

I am married to a beautiful lady, and a fantastic cook! She sometimes tells me that "the only reason you married me was for my cooking!" In reply, I offer "you have to admit, it's a pretty good reason."

EddyC, you've missed the point: President Clinton messed around IN THE OFFICE DURING WORK. It's not like he stopped at a hotel that rents by the hour on his way home from work or something. Someone above made a smug, dismissive remark about orgies in the office - well, the last President's "activities" - again, DURING OFFICE HOURS, IN THE OFFICE, ON COMPANY TIME - illustrate that, indeed, it can and does happen - and the offending parties get away with it (almost, in this case).

I used to be a "nice guy." Take note, men: it's only a matter of time... I used to be a nice guy until I found out, through bitter experience, that it's a weakness in the workplace. (In my case, I was cured of being nice in graduate school, before I got a real job.)

TTFN! Viking Power!

RE: Need an honest answer

I don't believe being "nice" means being a doormat or a yes-man.  My definition of "nice" in the workplace is someone who has integrity and wouldn't sell out a co-worker or friend for his own personal gain.  There is nothing wrong with a "nice" guy - but I think you are talking about something else, Mr. Viking.

RE: Need an honest answer

I've been a Metallurgist for 28 years and to me it comes down to competence in the field. In my career I cannot make any generalizations about female engineers without making the same for males. Incompetence knows no gender.

RE: Need an honest answer

(OP)
Bacon4life;

I think it is ethical to not mention that you may take some time off.

My reasons why its ok;
1. You do not know exactly when you would have children and it could very well be a while, either by choosing to wait to have children or taking a while to conceive.

2. You may change your mind and decide to continue working with kids, either part time or full time.

Some ethical things you should do if you would get the job and indeed decide to take time off to care for kids.

1. Give plenty of notice.
2. Be honest with your employer on what your future plans are.

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