Tuesday, October 28, 2008


I am a professional woman, in a male dominated field. Even in college, males outnumbered women in the majority of my engineering classes. I knew once I entered the workforce, I would have to fight the stereotypes about women in engineering. I also knew I would have to confront chauvinism, sexism, and racism. I was up to the challenge. I knew I would have to work twice as hard as my male collegues because I had to prove to others I was smart enough and not a result of "affirmative action".

I took on the challenge because I enjoy being challenged. I picked a major that most people would never consider. I pushed myself to the max, graduated, had a job a month after graduation. I didn't stop there. I knew it would take more than a bachelor's degree to get me where I wanted to be. I enrolled in a master's degree program and went to school at night. Still not enough, not when my male counterparts were accomplishing the same goals as I was.

I went further, and took the dreaded exam required to obtain my professional engineer's license. Never mind that I had a 3 month old baby at home, and a full time job. This was important to me and my career. I passed the first time I took the test.

This is just the academic part. There is the "working hard" part to go along with the other stuff. The most important part in my opinion. I have done my work and gone above and beyond what's expected of me. I have carved a name for myself and earned the respect of my superiors and my peers. I have enrolled in leadership programs, in management programs. I have read books, I have done my homework.

Still, there is barely a crack on my glass ceiling. I often wonder if I haven't done enough. Have I not taken a class I should have? Have I not tried hard enough?

I think I have done my part. There is always room for improvement, I don't believe a person should ever stop learning or growing as a person. So I know I am not perfect, then again, no one is.

Still, it is frustrating when your peers feel that a male, with less qualifications and work experience, is better qualified for a job simply because of seniority. There is always going to be someone with more seniority than me. And I will always have more seniority than someone else. Does that mean I am never going to be able to move above that glass ceiling?

I don't want a "hand-me-down" or a promotion I did not earn. I am not asking for charity. I am not asking for what some people see as "affirmative action". I simply want the same considerations my male colleagues get. I want someone to look at my qualifications, my skills, and hard work and allow me to compete with the "guys", regardless of how long I have been here. Seniority does not make anyone qualified to do anything, experience and expertise do.

I have worked hard to educate myself. I have worked hard at every job I've had, from my times as a clerk at Walmart to my job at a Fortune 500 company. I believe my work is a personal reflection of the person I am, so I take pride on everything I do.

I don't want a "free pass" because of my gender or my ethnicity. I simpy want the same opportunity to compete.


The Miller's Blog said...

Good blog! I really admire you, Kayra. You are a great example for all working women, and my hat is off to you and all the hard work that you have accomplished.

From the Doghouse said...

Keep up your good work -and ask your boss what you can do to advance. Then you have their word on what to do (and can hold it against them if they don't).

Kayra said...

doghouse, I have asked, and have been told what to improve on. I have done those things, and when the promotion didn't happened, I was told seniority was more important than experience. oh well