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Is it hard to become a civil engineer especially if you're a black woman?

I'm asking because I'm a black woman myself and i would like to know all the challenges I would have to go through in order to pursue my dream as a civil engineer. #civil-engineering #women-in-engineering #black

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Shelley’s Answer

Hi Brittany,

I am a woman mechanical engineer.

The way I've directly experienced sexism is through dumb jokes and awkward passes where people misread friendliness for romantic interest, and assumptions about my family planning.

People will generally intend well, but they'll have a reason or something else that you need to do before they will feel that you've earned the higher performance review, or the better raise, or the promotion. It is getting better, but as we see from recent news, it's still an insidious thought process in young people. This will happen with people with conscious or unconscious bias.

It's out there. Do your best. STEM could definitely use your help.

Seek out http://www.nsbe.org/ for like minded people for support.
Read through http://www.askamanager.org/ for strategies on how to deal with racist/sexist/inappropriate co-workers and how to find a good workplace.

Hi Brittany, Being a black woman in America comes with challenges. We all know that. Those challenges are out of your control. Don't focus on the challenges. Focus on the opportunity. You are equipped to develop a solution that is unique from most people in the field. Excellence is the best deterrent to racism. Excellence is the best deterrent to sexism. Focus on being excellent. Erin Johnson

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Robert’s Answer

First step is to get the idea that being a black woman in civil engineering will be an issue out of your head. It makes no difference unless YOU make it an issue. I ran a mid sized engineering firm in South Florida for almost 30 years. Employed black men and white, Hispanic women. Worked with black women engineers, just never had one apply. Race or gender makes no difference unless you make it an issue. Your ideas will get questioned, not because you are a black woman, but because you will have some not so good ideas. We all do. Engineers tend to point out things in a matter of fact way, not meant to be critical, just pointing out a different view. Engineers don't always interact well with emotions. Learn to accept helpful advice and not take it as hurtful criticism.