Manufacturing Engineer 

From Anonymous female

Many stories I’ve read on here sound very similar to many situations I’ve encountered. For years, a lifetime of being brainwashed into believing sexism is in the past. It is alive and thriving. When I got my first degree, an associates in HVAC, I had even passed the state board contractor’s exam (which had <20% passing rate), I was laughed at by every company I called when I tried to get a job. I wanted hands on experience. Years later after getting a BS and becoming an engineer, even though I had licenses, my local HVAC supply store refused to sell me (electrical components not requiring a license) parts to work on my own AC unit, without even asking for my license or if I was affiliated with a business. It was a chain store that, in another town I had lived, a sister store with a different manager sold supplies to me regularly before. Looking back, I should have reported them.

During college, I had this one professor that seemed to give me a hard time no matter what I did. One day in class, he gave us our graded lab assignments. Mine was in the covering outlined in the syllabus. The order, spacing, font, content and everything was exactly to the syllabus. The guy next to me picked up my assignment and read it. He busted out laughing. I had a C and he got an A. He said “they basically say the same thing, but yours is better,” and he handed me his barely legible, hand written, torn-out-of-a-spiral-notebook with shreds hanging all over, lab homework that warranted an “A.” This was just the tip of the iceberg of what this bigoted professor put me, and many other women through. Again, I had been brainwashed to believe sexism was a thing of the past.

It was working here that finally broke me and woke me up to the realization that discrimination against women is VERY real, and we are being brainwashed into believing it ended with the 70’s. I still deal with it every day. After having been laid off, I landed my dream job! It was the job to put me on the radar and have my career set for life!!! One of the biggest name defense contractors there are. For a while, I’m the only female Manufacturing Engineer on site. I sit with my peers at break, but they talk like I’m a ghost or invisible and they can’t hear me. So weird!!! Then, they move tables and make it so obvious, I just take breaks in my car. Long story short, I was completely ignored, even when I spoke directly to my peers, and I can’t stress this enough, it was like I didn’t exist at all. I worked there over 2 months before I found out I was supposed to attend a weekly meeting with everyone. we worked in a missile factory, around many things that will kill you. Alarms went off, and I had no idea what they were for or what to do, and they all left me sitting at my desk. Week one, I was asking about something and the manager started making fun of me in front of other people. The next few days, he told me how he didn’t think women should be in certain positions. Over the year I worked for him, took his twisted psychological abuse and experienced mob-bullying from his crony engineers, I left work crying almost daily. Several months after I started, another woman was hired, and they basically treated her the same way. I thought it was just me. The insults from this manager were personal, and the way my coworker’s treated me was horrific. I was so beaten down. I moved to another building. It was much better, but I was stuck on night shift, and I had a child in school.

Long story short, I had transferred within my “dream company” after a negative experience, to a job I absolutely loved. The downside was sharing a cubicle of (literally) a modern day Archie Bunker. I had just transferred from a HORRIBLE place within this “dream company” and didn’t want to “rock the boat.” I loved my job, but I took a lot of crap. My lead was a wet-behind-the-ears ladder climber that shouldn’t even be in a technical field, so he was extremely insecure and was very unethical as a result. One day, in front of my lead, my coworker started making fun of me for something I said, turned toward me, grabbed his crotch, shook it, and kept shaking it, saying “Are you going to cut it off??!” I was floored at this behavior. Please note, this is the same lead that had already knit picked every move I made. He would criticize my voice if I didn’t speak in total low feminine whisper monotone, I was not allowed to laugh or joke like the guys (I don’t even cuss or talk inappropriate). I reported this to HR, and my “lead/ladder climbing witness” claimed it never happened. He made me out to be a liar. I was “the problem.” This coworker had worked for this company over 30 years, using racist, bigoted language against people and got away with it. Why did I think that would change? I left that company and threw away a great career because it was giving me a nervous breakdown.

After a couple decades of “welcome to the real world of how women are really treated,” I’ve developed this huge pet peeve. It’s expected to be discriminated against, and to be completely assured we are completely inferior to the great white male, but it’s beyond an insulting slap in the face when another woman, especially one trying to achieve a higher position, treats us just as inferior as men do, and worse. My own mother was like that. Our whole family is. According to society in the south, one must have a penis to know how to do anything productive other than make cornbread or sweet tea. Just put a bullet in my head and get it over with.

From Anonymous 

I interviewed at a small IT firm as a network support technician. I had two very successful interviews and felt that I got along really well with all of the staff that I spoke with during the interview. On the tech side, I very much was qualified if not overqualified for the position and could answer all the questions they asked.

I did not get the job. I was shocked. We had even talked about getting the paperwork together. This is a direct quote as to why from the hiring manager:

“I would suggest presenting a warmer side of your personality (that I’m sure you have) to others. We’re a very laid back (casual) group of folks here. When we’re dealing with customers we want to respond to their issue but also do it in a way that demonstrates warmth and caring…a soft skill approach that connects with folks on a deeper level. Hope that helps.”

I get a strong feeling that a couple of things are happening here:
1) They would never tell a male candidate for a technicial position that he needed to be more ‘warm’ or ‘soft’. They expected this to an unreasonable degree from me because I am a woman. Had I managed to get the position, I probably would have been pidegonholed into support and customer relations instead of the tech position I wanted.

2) They did not want to pay my modest asking price of ~45k.

I will note that I picked up on the casual atmosphere of the organization when I was there for the first interview. I tried to be more relaxed and jovial in the second interview, even cracking a few SFW jokes and puns where appropriate and talking about where I grew up. I keep trying to figure out what I did wrong, and I am so upset because I actually wanted this job.

I should have known something was wrong when every technical interviewer I met was a white male. Or when they told me about how they had a girl in software support who was transferred to HR because she was ‘better at HR’, despite having the same technical degree as me. It’s disheartening. But as a recent graduate of a CS field, it’s good to know what I am up against.

Solidarity to you all.

Boys Club 

From Alissa 

While interviewing for a QA Specialist position at a mobile gaming studio, my male interviewers asked me these following questions/said these statements:
“I’m curious… how are you going to adapt to our boys club atmosphere?”
“Going back to school makes you seem highly unmotivated. Why not learn these skills on your own for free? …There are two men in our department that went to a better school than yours.”
“But you don’t have any QA experience. …Oh you do? Well I didn’t look at your resume beforehand.”

I Don’t Know Anything 

From Alissa

I was working as a manager at a store that sells video games, and a man came in with quite a few questions. I was also training a new hire at the time, so I jumped at the chance to help this man.
Well this customer did not agree with my answers, and instead of asking for clarification he turned to the new hire (also a male) and said “she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”
This customer then refused to talk to me for the rest of his shopping experience. And even though the new hire could not answer any of his questions, he didn’t seem to mind. The customer even apologized to the new hire for his lack of knowledge! And he kept saying over and over “she doesn’t know anything” as if I wasn’t within earshot.
Before the customer left, he thanked the new hire for his help and then advised him to train HIS employees better. Meaning he assumed the male new hire was the manager, not me.

From Cinerdella 

When I told my parents (my mother a school nurse, my father a CIO) that I was applying to graduate school to be a software engineer, they asked me questions like:
“But will you have time to date?”
“Don’t you think that material is a little tough for you?”
“How will you get a job in the industry? You should do something easier, like nursing instead.” (as if nursing is easy)

My own parents, of all people, were gender biased and against me going into a STEM field.

From Anonymous

Worked at the Center for X-Ray Optics at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. Have a math degree and lab tech experience in analytical chemistry. Assumed everyone there would know more than me. There were four female scientists among the entire department of 38 scientists. The man I trained under, only six months my senior, had no degree. His previous experience was working at Zazzle.com’s printing department. He did not know basic algebra and would often say things like “Now we’re doing real math!” after such intimidating calculations as *adding two numbers.*

Sexual harassment from him from day one. Subtle stuff. Oversharing of personal information, interest in my backstory, lewd jokes, etc.

He told me while he was training me that “he wasn’t trying to crack a whip here” and often arranged for me meet up with him for training on the very late side of the morning. Then he reported to my boss I was coming in late and asking too many questions. Got warned and then fired in the probationary period for being late, not demonstrating understanding, not meeting expectations, not using Slack the right way, etc.

My team had the most women (two), so sometimes I think I am imagining the poor gender climate.

The Brothers

From “Stereotypical Female”

“You are a stereotypical female.”
I am a member of my school’s robotics team. There are not very many girls on the team, but that never bothered me because everyone was so inclusive. One of our sponsors is this pair of brothers who are very smart and like to teach kids about STEM. This is great but they make many misogynistic comments to the girls in our team (including myself) and some of the boys. It really does hurt to hear “Women don’t belong in STEM” when you are already trying to make it in a field that is predominately men. Their mindset is so stuck in the past. Women do belong in STEM. Women are just as good as their male counterparts. The problem is men like these two brothers bringing engineer hopeful girls down and discouraging them further. It is not okay. It really is sad that sexism is still so evident in my everyday life. It’s almost as if we’ve gotten nowhere in terms of gender equality. I hope that when I get to college and beyond that the atmosphere is much more inclusive because it’s really not okay.

From Anonymous

I’m in a statistics graduate program. I specialize in statistical graphics and data visualization. Today, a fellow grad student asked me a question about how to show some model results in a different way. I made a few suggestions, to which he replied, “That’s actually a really good idea.” The bone I have to pick here is with the word “actually.” Why qualify “That’s a really good idea” with “actually”? It just diminishes my good idea (in a field I’m almost an expert in) and makes it seem surprising that it came from my brain! I like this other student, and I don’t think he was actively trying to diminish me and my ideas. However, this is a microaggression that I face frequently in academia and I find it extremely frustrating. I’m tired of my colleagues sounding so surprised when I have a good idea!

From Anonymous 

I have been working on the same project with my (male) advisor for over a year and there have been many setbacks. I was blamed for being slow and making mistakes, when in fact, I was the one who would bring up his mistakes but it seems like he never remembers this. He brought in a male grad student to help me, and of course, no progress is made for months. The male grad student likes to sit in meetings, and engage in math-speak with my advisor while I sit in silence, because I am cut off mid sentence every time I try to say something. When the grad student and I are to collaborate, he wants to go for walks or get coffee rather than actually doing the work. He is curious about my life story, whether I “like” anyone, what I like to cook, etc.

Irritated, I decided to avoid the grad student, took a breather, and ended up fixing up the code for the project and got decent results. My advisor’s response was “See? I told you [grad student’s name here] is useful.” I can’t shake this feeling of resentment, and regret. Why is it so hard to believe that I am not an idiot? I feel like I cannot escape from this stupid box that I’ve been put in, completely undermining everything I do.

A word to professors who have genuine intentions to mentor. We look up to you, so please care, and try to notice how hard we work and all the substantial contributions we make.

From Sarah

In my first year of university, I was in a lab in which you had to do the experiment and turn in answer questions at the end. Every week, my lab partner (who was just taking the class for credit) would copy my answers and each week he would somehow get 10% more than me on every assignment. One day, I was finally over it and when I didn’t let him he called me a b*****. The next lab we had, I was really frazzled because my lab partner was being rude (as he wasn’t over last week) and when the lab coordinator came over, he saw me and said “Sweetheart, why don’t you sit this lab out.”