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Playing dress-up July 11, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in career, engineering.
Tags: , , , ,

A while back, I wrote a post on EngineerBlogs about how I could never find the right mix of clothes to make me look like an engineer.  A lot of people had great advice, and a few months ago, I finally settled on what I call my ‘work uniform’.  I looked at most of my male engineering colleagues, and I wore what I viewed to be the equivalent female for an outfit: a button down shirt, jeans, and flats.  So far, I like it.  We’ll see how I feel once I start teaching this fall.

Okay, I have to admit that one of the shirts has a cheetah pattern.  I am amused when I wear this.  I’m not sure why, but I think it’s hilarious.

This is totally me...if I were Asian and skinny.

This is totally me…if I were Asian and skinny.

On the other hand, there are days when I still need to step it up.  I know a lot of women like to dress up, but it really makes me uncomfortable.  Rather than feeling like I’m making a great impression, I feel more like I’m a five-year-old who is rummaging around in mom’s closet for the pumps and lipstick so I can play dress up.  I suspect I’d be able to walk in heels better if they were twice the size of my feet but, sadly, I’m no longer able to find anything with same proportions to my adult feet that my five-year-old feet were used to.  I probably look just fine, but somehow I feel goofy and just want my jeans back.

Electrical engineers are the worst September 9, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, humor.
Tags: ,

I was having lunch with a friend who happens to have a background in geology.  He has a strong dislike for engineers, especially civil, but apparently I’ve been given special dispensation since we’ve known each other since high school. While we were waiting in line to pay the check, I started telling my friend a joke I’d heard:

“What’s the difference between an introverted engineer and an extroverted engineer?”

Another guy standing in line decided to interject himself into our conversation.

“There’s no such thing as an extroverted engineer.”

“No,” I said.  “The extroverted engineer looks at your shoes when talking to you.”

“There’s just no such thing as an extroverted engineer.”

My friend piped up, “Yeah, those civil guys are pretty bad.”

The guy responds, “The civil are pretty good.  But electrical are just the worst.”

My friend grins at me and nods, and I just pointed and told him to shut up.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t on top of my game or I would’ve had a response for the other person.

My thoughts after this experience, however, are that maybe it’s not wise to interject yourself into a conversation when you know nothing about the other people involved.  You might just be coming across as a jerk, especially if you start insulting them…even if they are electrical engineers.

How do you wash off people repellent? January 12, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in feminism, personal, societal commentary.
Tags: , people repellant,

I have a question: how does one interact socially with non-technically literate people? I don’t mean that in terms of explaining things to them. In fact, I mean exactly the opposite. I explain a lot, and it has a very undesirable effect: it seems like they don’t want you to even say anything at all that requires explaining.

Perhaps a better phrasing is to ponder how one socially interacts with people who don’t understand what it means to have a scientific mindset.

Fluxor discussed his attempt. He apparently used hockey as his cover. It would be un-Canadian not to.

The thing is, I actually am very social, but many of my friends are engineers and scientists. I do have friends who are not of a scientific bent, and bless them, they seem to have mastered the art of the “nod-and-smile-until-she-shuts-up-and-moves-on” maneuver. So even if they aren’t into science, they’re obviously talented actors and actresses. Regardless, I find them interesting and fun people…and apparently they feel the same about me for at least short periods of time.

In my own defense, I do have a lot of interests outside of science: crochet, violin, middle eastern dance, triathlon, hiking, slogging through snow (when one becomes talented, they call it skiing, but I’m not there yet). You would think I could find a million things to talk about with people. However, I tend to saturate myself in my hobbies: if I can’t be doing them, I spend a lot of time reading and learning about them. When I’m neither doing them nor learning about them, I’m talking about them…in great detail.

Unfortunately, this habit has a tendency to turn people off. I seem to lack the ability to ‘dial things down’ and have apparently come across to certain people as arrogant. I guess in my many years of worrying about talking up to people because I’m worried about coming across as condescending, I’ve over-compensated. Unbeknownst to me, using words that are polysyllabic is déclassé…of course, using words of French origin probably is, too.

I grew up in a family with a wonderful trait: they’re not afraid to say they don’t know something. If my mom, who is an accountant, starts talking about some aspect of her job that I don’t understand, I will ask for clarification, and she will explain. (I did, after all, get a C in accounting…) Likewise, they will ask me if they don’t understand. I try to talk to them, in general, about the work I’m thinking on for my dissertation or issues at work (although I can’t be too specific there).

But some people don’t act that way. Rather than wanting to learn more, they will be offended when I’ve mentioned something they don’t understand. The problem is compounded when they don’t want to ask for clarification, presumably because they don’t want to look stupid.

It’s even more frustrating when I see this not happening to my husband. Yes, I really suspect there is a sexist aspect to the problem.

I’m very puzzled as to how to deal with it, and when it happens, my inclination is to isolate myself in my ‘sciencey friends’ bubble. However, it only seems to exacerbate the problem.


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