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.