Sexism in the engineering world may not be pronounced to you. But it is there, in its subtle delusions. It is an employer scrutinizing a woman’s outfit before her resume. It is a coworker’s predisposition to correlate “blonde” with “ditzy." It is a student’s disbelief that his female classmate performed better than him on an exam, so it must be because “the teacher favors girls." You would not believe some of the things I hear about my wonderful, intelligent classmates:
“All of the boys help her because she’s pretty; she would be failing her classes if she was ugly.”
“She knows she’s attractive, so she flirts with guys to get them to help her.”
“She only got the job because the company needs to fill a quota.”
“The teacher only gave her an A because she’s a girl and he felt bad.”
From a young age, girls tend to be pushed away from the sciences. They are labeled as “nerdy” or “different” based on their interests. The media, movies, and TV shows don’t portray women capable of becoming engineers. Then when a girl grows to a woman, she is faced with the same pressures of society. Women must deal with the inspection of her male classmates and employers before even given a chance to exhibit her knowledge uninfluenced by stereotypes.
I do not believe women should be given extra opportunities. I believe the most qualified individual should get the job, period. Qualifications entail experience, recommendations, and educational background, not sex or race. I do not want to work for a company that only hires me because they need women to avoid looking sexist. I want to work for a company that hires me because they believe in my capabilities as an engineer. I want to be hired because I am smart enough, not because I am a woman. I am not in an engineering discipline to break stereotypes or “prove myself” to society. I want to be an engineer because I want to create things that help people. If you are going to prevent me from helping others because I am a woman, what does that say about you?
Let me be clear, this does not go for every male in an engineering discipline. There are those individuals that recognize that a woman’s appearance is separate from her intelligence. To those people: thank you. Thank you for not becoming victim to the media driven fallacy that women are nothing more than their exteriors. I am sick and tired of hearing, “Oh wow, you don’t meet too many female engineers." Well ladies, it is time to change that.