Veterans in Engineering
Veterans in Engineering
From the Women in Engineering thread:
Quote:An interesting, related dichotomy that many veterans like myself struggle with surrounds the lack of candor in civilian workplaces. In the military you could speak significantly more freely with only a need for very limited tact. Worst case, if someone didn't like what you said then you'd either get a bit of free exercise or you'd agree to let your fists settle the argument with a couple of your peers acting as referee. Ultimately, nobody held grudges and everybody was "in it" together. No doubt it was a rough lifestyle due to various other reasons but the acceptance of candor, forgiveness of faux-pas, and simple common courtesy ensured personal interactions were never really an issue. Among the folks I served with, there were plenty that I didn't care for due to petty personal reasons (found them annoying, personal habits, etc), but yet I'd still seriously consider traveling to their funeral. By contrast, I have met many in the civilian world that have been offended by honesty and retaliated with petty grievances who I don't think I could sympathize with if something truly terrible were to happen. At some point the petty garbage makes someone "not a good person" due to lack of forgiveness. In any case, I don't know where the proverbial line in the sand is on feelings vs forgiveness vs professionalism vs etc, but I suspect its gotten worse, moving toward "extreme HR" due to modern job-hopping. I often wonder if more employees stuck with an employer most/all of their career if folks wouldn't act a bit better toward one another. An interesting quote that many former military have claimed sums it up best is copied below, and the most frustrating part is highlighted. Apologies in advance for strong language, ****'ed it out intentionally.
“Life after the military is hard because from day one, we’re told where rank and how to act accordingly. You spend years knowing exactly where everyone stands in the hierarchy of command, ranked by accomplishments, intelligence, and time in service.
Cut to life after getting out…
None of you know your f***ing place. Everyone thinks they’re the most special flower and I’m over here losing my s**t because I’m trying to stay in my designated lane but people keep crashing into me. I’m the bad guy when I verbally assist them back to where they belong.
I genuinely struggle with this every single day."
Quote:If I understand CWB1 correctly, in the military your display of respect for the others' rank allows you to dispute their opinion without any disrespect taken. A hierarchy where status is not based on rank but rather on seniority, skill, or simply popularity is less stable, so any challenge to an opinion is more likely a threat to the other's status.
You're taking this a (logical) step further and drawing a conclusion about causation that I didn't really intend to address, simply bc the military culture of respect is complex enough that there really isn't any one significant, specific cause. My point was simply that the military IMHO is much more openly communicative (candor) to their benefit at the detriment of political correctness, which makes myself and many others question if the move toward "extreme HR" isn't detrimental to a company's culture.
To your point however - Somewhat yes but mostly no. I'm sure the custom & courtesy shown to rank helps subliminally keep respect forefront, but I believe the culture of respect is more shaped by each service's recognition of the human factors and the duty of leadership than anything. One of the first things you learn in basic training is that everybody makes mistakes, often large ones, but we're all in it together so holding grudges and negative feelings is a needless distraction. Ultimately the military owns everyone from the top officer to the lowest enlisted for X years, your individual rights have been mostly forfeited, everybody must obey orders given, and that will lead to a ton of personal sacrifice, separation from family and friends, and possibly even death. Early on you learn to be a good follower - to trust your leaders explicitly and without hesitation (blind faith) that you are capable of accomplishing what they say regardless if you believe the task is possible or yourself physically capable. This level of trust leads to all manner of negative stereotypes about the military being rigid and uncaring, yet quite the opposite is true. It seems like a waste sometimes to stand in formation with everybody multiple times daily, but good communication led to frequent quick praise, "good job at/on/doing...." which creates the fierce esprit de corps the military's known for. Leaders by regulation are also barred from giving orders which they themselves cannot perform and are often challenged by their superiors and juniors to show that they can perform basic soldier skills to a high standard. This leads to unintentional team/respect building as senior leaders often have the youngest/newest/lowest ranking score their PT (physical training) tests or spend time on guard duty alongside lower enlisted. Leaders are also ultimately responsible for everything their subordinate does/doesn't do, and are expected to know them personally. If your sub is having an issue its your job to fix it regardless if it means a lot of extra work after-hours on your part. Rank therefore is somewhat of an illusion in many cases for all these reasons, yes its respected as a designation of someone that must be obeyed but simultaneously leaders are expected to maintain the respect of their subordinates or there's a good chance they will lose said rank.
Quote:In terms of specifically "women in engineering", how fair would it be to suggest that strictly hierarchical systems (like the military) are more likely to make women feel uncomfortable than men?
Admittedly not female so probably not a great person to argue this point, however I'd believe most women to be like most men in that they're far more comfortable in the military than working in the civilian world due to the camaraderie. If you study veterans' mental health issues you may notice the significance of interpersonal relationships. The main reason for this that I've heard repeated many times is that as alluded above, in the military you know what to expect of others - respect and honesty. They may not like you but others will solidly respect you given reasonable effort. In the civilian world by comparison praise is rarely given, feelings are not discussed unless it involves negativity, and the means for promotion/success aren't clearly laid out in terms of skill, knowledge, or accomplishment but often involve office politics. There's often also little/no room for the candor necessary to improve.