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Ambassador for the engineers May 22, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, feminism, humor, work.
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After writing about my experience manning a booth at a conference (geez…even how you work a booth at a conference can be phrased in male-centric terms), it has slowly dawned on me that there is another way to view the experience.  I was rather frustrated that people seemed surprised when they found out I was an engineer.  I have realized, however, that I need to look at it in a different light: such a reaction, when not accompanied by an obvious derogatory or sexist statement (as has happened), could potentially be viewed as a compliment.  Maybe in expressing surprise that I’m an engineer, what they were really saying was: “Oh my!  You can talk to me without using technobabble or looking at someone’s shoes!  Nor do you have male-pattern baldness!”  It’s a good thing to go out and destroy those stereotypes, right?

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1. Charles J Gervasi - May 22, 2013

It’s so wrong, but if I’m on a phone call and they say they’ll put me through to an engineer and they put me through to someone whose voice’s fundamental frequency >300Hz, I think immediately suspect they put me through to someone non-technical. That asinine rule works 90% of the time.

It sounds like these people thought you were a booth babe, and I cannot imagine what’s that’s like. All I can say is people think the average male is not technical too; they just don’t have to prove themselves as much. I went to a non-technical event a few years ago in which everyone was selling something: “I sell mortgages.” “I sell insurance,” “I sell farm equipment.” Everyone takes turns their head in confusion when they realize I don’t sell something; I actually make something.

The bizarre thing is even at a technical event, people think you’re a salesmaker, and I that’s unfortunate. It’s good to destroy the stereotypes.

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