Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Boys Club

This week was one of those weeks where I burned out on the Boys Club. By the end of it I am not proud to say I was a crabby mess who just wanted to get away from work. The odd part about this was it had been a great week. I finished my first semester of my masters degree,  had a fantastic performance review, and things are really going well.  I just need a break from the boys. 

There are days when being the only woman in my lab is like being slapped in the face over, and over again. There is no blatant sexism, there are just the little things that seem to pile up and this week the bucket overflowed. 

Ever been oggled during a data review where you are just trying to do your job? Yep, twice this week. I made my lead go with me to the second data review since it was uncomfortable. Thankfully data reviews with that group are less frequent. 

Ever had someone wave, walk right by, start to leave the room, then see your coworker and comment "oh, so there is someone who can help me!"  This was concerning things that were more in my realm too. 

Ever had people listen to you pitch slides but when questions arise they address them to your coworker?  My coworker was only there to see what went on in data reviews.  I was the "expert" in my system.

These are just some of the little slaps to the face.  I have learned to tolerate most of them while working to change the tides. "Quit being such a girl about it" has already been removed from the collective vocabulary in the lab.  To me part of being a woman in engineering is learning how to roll with some of the misunderstandings and keep going knowing that you are helping to make it better for both yourself and those behind you.

Somehow this week the bucket of tolerance was drained. I was tired of looking at the hierarchy in the lab that I have yet to break into. I was tired of seeing assignments handed to the other people and fighting for interesting work. I was tired of having things taken away when I ask for help.  I was tired of being invisible.  I was mostly just tired of it all. 

Thankfully I have a boss who is awesome.  She understands this battle since she has been here. I can talk to her without fear of things trickling back to the boys.  She is proof that I can do this.  She even told me to go home early Friday when I was burned out and on top of that offered to talk to call my lead to up date him on a test they were trying to run this weekend so I wouldn't have to talk to him.  She's helped me learn how to deal with one of the guys , understating I wanted to learn how to stand up for myself and not have someone come save the day.  I know I still have a lot left to learn from her, and I hope I can continue to do so.

Thankfully this week is another week.  The holidays are coming up soon, and things are always getting better.  I can only hope that one day the women behind me will not be facing these same battles.