Women in Engineering

12:51 PM Katy 9 Comments

My youngest is having eye surgery tomorrow, so I am taking a break from remodeling, blogging, and my regular day job to take care of him. Hopefully it will be a quick recovery, and I won't pass out in the hospital. (eye stuff makes me queasy, yo.)

I have been thinking about this topic and so I'm posting my (totally random) thoughts on it.

#1. Engineering school is torture.
#2. If you don't naturally "get" complicated applications for calculus and physics, it's gonna be even worse.
#3. Most kids drop out (and go to business school.) No joke.
#4. Most day-to-day engineering jobs use very little of what you learned in college. Your job will specialize in one TINY area of your coursework, and you could spend the rest of your career re-designing brake pads while your fellow grads spend their careers testing rubber samples.
#5. When I was in school there were only a handful of girls in my classes. The profs were all male, (and most of them were Chinese or Indian with very thick accents. good times.)
#6. I actually had one of my grades altered (from a B to an A) after the prof "squeezed" me in the hallway after an exam. I was grateful.
#7. I had another prof who wanted to "mentor" the girls. Heh.
#8. It was 5 long years, but I graduated. I almost sobbed tears of relief when I got to leave the building with my diploma. I think I did cry later when I was alone.

For a long time afterwards I hated anything to do with engineering  and was planning on abandoning that career path.

I had kids. I painted my house rainbow colors. I wrote a book.

And then I had to go crawling back to engineering, on my hands and knees, begging for a job. Because my husband was leaving and I had three kids to support.

So now I am grateful. It took 10 years, but I am glad I didn't give up. It has made all the difference.

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  1. Hi!
    I've followed Your blog for a while now, but this is the first time I leave a comment. I just had to say: "You are amazing!" I love Your blog, it's warm and homey!
    I'm civil engineering student (from Estonia) and can understand exactly what you mean in this post. The school is so hard and I don't know yet how to be feminine in this engineering field.
    I'd like to be like You!:)
    I wish best for You and Your youngest! Get well soon!

  2. Katy you are an amazing single mom, I love that you have a real, serious, tough job on top of all the DIY projects. Best wishes for your son.

  3. I'm a female engineer too. I was lucky in that my school had an excellent female:male ratio - we were at nearly 25%! but I also remember feeling like I had WON SOMETHING, like I had beat the beast, when I graduated. And to be honest, even though I don't use ANYTHING from my education in my day job as an engineer, I know that the fact that I BEAT ENGINEERING SCHOOL gives me the confidence to tackle all kinds of weird and new things.

  4. Well, I'm certainly not clever enough to be an engineer! You have my admiration there. But I am lucky enough to be a mother, best wishes to you and your boy, eye thingies aren't my bag either :)

    Suzy xxx

  5. I read something recently about women in male-dominated fields...and a girl told me she was going to major in engineering...and I felt bad because I wasn't immediately saying "you go girl, you can do it". Instead I was re-living the horror and saying "are you suuuuure that's really what you want to do?"

    I hate to discourage people, maybe I was just really disappointed because it was a lot more boring than I was expecting. ha

  6. i'm not in the engineering league in any way BUT, as an interior designer in the early '90s in a male dominated architecture/design firm, i was demeaned daily, almost to the point of being told to bring coffee to the men instead of consulted on projects. i left the firm and the field with a sour taste in my mouth and went to grad school for education. talk about diving into a female stereotype!

    isn't it funny how it works out along the path of life?

    you flippin' rock, engineering chick! keep movin' and DON'T LOOK BACK!


  7. Uh yeah, I am so not built for engineering! I took the psychology train :-) I was always so jealous when you and Ian would get talking about all that engineering crap. I think you ROCK! I hope all goes well today! And you don't pass out :-) And i want to hear more about #6!!!

  8. My daughter is very science, math and physics oriented. I try to convince her every day to pursue engineering when she goes to college next year. She wants to major in biology- after reading that, I may encourage her!

    I ran with the engineering school crowd in college, always a fun, interesting, MALE bunch, but good guys

  9. I'm glad you didn't give up as well young'un; supporting our children alone is just a LITTLE easier when we have a solid education. I look at so MANY single Mums who don't, and they struggle just to meet basic necessities for themselves and their families. Between your education and your AMAZING skills during your "home wrecking by night" sojourns, you're able to provide a good life for your family...KUDOS to you lady. Wishing your son a quick and uneventful recovery...