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As a woman in the engineering field, how should I navigate the field differently than my male peers?

As a woman in the engineering field, how should I navigate the field differently than my male peers?

Thank you comment icon As a woman in the field, I can honestly say that in our world today there are no racial or gender barriers. There are mean people all over, but to automatically assume youre going to hit a barrier because of your gender sets your mind up to block yourself. I was always hearing about all of this "gender bias" and I found out I was pregnant. I scared myself and never told my team (because I was the only woman on my team), I lied and said I was having a surgery because I thought they wouldnt understand my choice to get pregnant. I suffered because of that, and when I finally told them, they were so understanding and helpful. THEY encouraged me to take days off and take care of myself. I blame myself and my own barrier in my mind for my suffering, If i didnt listen to all of the groups talking about this "gender bias" I would have never pushed myself so hard and endangering my body and pregnancy. I WAS MY BIGGEST DOWNFALL! Taryn Donaldson

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Subject: Career question for you

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Sydney’s Answer

Hi there! When faced with adversity, just be your best. There will always be somebody bigger and stronger than you, but know your strengths. Every person has value and a unique perspective. When men and women work together in the workforce they may see things differently, but this is good! Diversity is good, it makes us think differently and consider other possibilities. Being the only woman in the room can be intimidating. Working really hard and not feeling seen is hard, but don’t let that stop you. My advice is to find coworkers, friends, family, etc. to support you and to lean on them when you get discouraged! Best of luck!
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Dan’s Answer

I think you should navigate the engineering field the same as your male peers. Be a good engineer and develop strong technical expertise. Be confident. Develop good people skills. Align yourself (make friends) with the good people - all of them, not just the women. Be part of the team.

My experience indicates that engineers are most comfortable relating to other (good) engineers because they value expertise. This is because a good engineer will be better able to understand and make good technical management decisions. As a result, good engineers have a greater potential to be promoted into management even though “lesser” engineers with better people/management skills may be more suited to the actual managing tasks. Generally, people feel more at ease with those who share similar values and characteristics.
Thank you comment icon I appreciate your support, Dan Titilayomi
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Dwight’s Answer

First and most important is a woman has more employment opportunities because there is a lack of Females. Don't let anyone intimidate you. You have as many possible opportunities as a male. Don't be afraid to just jump in there and try your best.

That being said, now the most important thing is finding a field of work that excites you and you enjoy the challenge. You job should become something that does not feel like work but something that you enjoy doing.

Dwight recommends the following next steps:

Select an engineering field like Civil Engineering
Then try to specialize so you find a job within the Field that stimulates you.
Take classes that will advance you towrad you job of a cetain type of work.
Thank you comment icon This was super helpful, thank you! Titilayomi
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Carolina’s Answer

Hello Titilayomi,

This is a very nuanced question. I appreciate you asking it.
Several of the prior answers encourage you to face engineering the same as your male peers and not box yourself in by gender.
There is some validity to this. However, as a woman engineer, who has encountered an unfortunate amount of bias, there are some things you may consider.
In general, many of the things you do will be the same. Work hard. Ask Questions. Learn as Much as You Can.
However, I found at least at the college level there were times where I was doubted regardless of my skills.
I was 16, a full time college student with straight A’s, taking Multivariate calculus and working part time as a draftsman, and I still had a professor tell me that I shouldn’t be an engineer because it was “too hands on for a young lady like yourself”. You will likely encounter people who doubt you regardless of your abilities (I wish this didn’t still happen, and maybe someday it will be better). Do your best to ignore their opinions, and chose to only take advice from those who earn your trust and respect.
There were also professors whom I was uncomfortable around because of inappropriate statements they made, I elected not to go to the office hours of professors I did not feel safe and respected around. If this happens, don’t let it hold you back. Find another professor or teachers assistant or peer or online resource to enhance your learning.
Be who you are, and give people a chance, let your guard down and be open to people being wonderful. Certainly, don’t avoid people because you fear that they may be biased. At the same time, when people are disrespectful, don’t waste your time with them.
Do good work and for every person who may doubt you there will be many others rooting for you, for there will always be people who can recognize good work.
I went to a college that was roughly 70% men, and an even higher percentage when you looked at just the engineering department. Many of these men are lifelong friends for me, who I am very thankful to have met, and can’t imagine my life without. We studied, joked, ate, worked late into the night, learned, and expressed our frustrations together. There is no part of my life I keep secret from these wonderful close friends. At the same time, there were ones with inappropriate comments, ones who catcalled us leaving the engineering building, and ones who made it clear they were not worth investing time in.
Know you are capable regardless of what anyone says. Find good people of all kinds to surround yourself with. Study hard. Persist when the going gets tough.
Best of Luck,
-Carolina DiCampo

Carolina recommends the following next steps:

Know you are capable regardless of anyone who may doubt you
Study Hard and Work Hard
Let yourself feel the frustration but don't waste your time on disrespectful biased people
Find good people of all kinds
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