Spacefem (spacefem) wrote,

being the only girl in class

I was listening to an interview with Michael Che from SNL and he was asked about why he wanted to study performing arts in high school. Without missing a beat he said there was usually a 6:1 girl-to-guy ratio in those classes so why not! Great funny answer - but it got me thinking, because I'm often asked to explain what got me into engineering and oh man if a WOMAN ever admitted to wanting to hang out with guys, meet guys, especially a woman who was a nerd that never had a boyfriend in high school, it would not be funny. We've all heard those horror stories of women who "go to college to earn an MRS degree" - ie, meet a husband who brings in money. It is so not cool. Women are also not supposed to admit that we'd choose a career for money because again, golddiggers going for bank. Evil evil evil! Is there a tiny double standard here or is it just me?

Someone at geek girl con asked if women get competitive with each other because we're competing for men and the panelists kinda laughed at that because, the explained, in seattle the ratio is such that women are not competing for men. Same with Wichita. In fact your first day of engineering school you realize you are not going to ever be competing for men. Your odds are good (even if, as the saying goes, some of the goods are odd). So you quickly forget and erase from your memory that you MIGHT have signed up for these classes in order to maybe finally get a boyfriend. We shall never speak of this again.

I jokingly tell people that I was a "geek groupie" in high school. My family didn't have the internet, parents didn't believe in video games, I was not on BBS like my first crush and did not learn BASIC in the second grade like my crush. I was intimidated by those guys. My senior year though I wondered... did I want them? Or did I want to be them? I also adored the logic of the STEM world, was good at physics, wondered if there was a place for me.

I have been totally unable to relate to women who started engineering in school then left because they didn't like being the only woman in class. To me that was a draw. I'm still trying to reach into that thinking. I value being different. I'm feminist. I grew up with my mother taking college classes because she'd once been told that college wasn't necessary for girls, and she wanted to fight that. I think it made me want to fight something too.

So I can't pretend I went into engineering just because I liked physics, it's not honest, and we can't help others unless we're totally honest with ourselves first, right?

13 years in I am definitely tired of being the only girl. Trust me it sucks. I am doing everything I can to find ways to get more women in this field. I am listing all the reasons, any possible reason, any draw, with hopes that something might change someday.
Tags: women engineers

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