From Anonymous:

I am a mechanical engineering intern in a male-dominated company.  I am the only female intern we currently have.  My main supervisor has been constantly condescending to me, telling me not to walk outside near our heavy equipment or do the work the boys do because he is “worried” about me.  When he speaks to me it is often deferential and condescending.  This is someone who has told me stories about his own tax evasion practices.  He also does not know how to use any of the computer drawing programs we use to make drawings and has me do all of his drawings for him, but has referred to me as his secretary on the phone.

When I asked for a private conversation with him and simply and calmly asked to be allowed to do the same work the male mechanical engineering interns do, he started yelling that I was falsely accusing him of gender discrimination and “could not win this argument.”  He promptly called me into a surprise meeting with our department head and supervisor and told them I was lying about his being discriminatory.

In the meantime, other supervisors whom I liked very much and had considered my mentors have made comments like “I can tell you’re doing squats in the gym because of the way your pants fit” and that I should not have come into an all-male meeting because I “stopped the meeting” with my looks.  Others have even sat me down and in front of others, criticized me for not doing the same projects as another male co-op, not even realizing that this is because we work for different departments.

I  am scared to talk to anyone in case I make any more waves and  will get bad recommendations after I leave.  Every day when I come into work I have extreme stress and feel like everyone is against me, even though there are many great male colleagues I work with.  I used to dismiss the idea of sexism in this day and age, but that was before I worked here.  I feel trapped and depressed.

One comment

  1. Don’t despair! Because you’re an intern, you are evaluating the company as much as they’re evaluating you, and right now it sure doesn’t look like it’s a good fit. Also, document everything your supervisor (and other managers) say (content, date, and time). If you can do so, and one-sided consent on recordings is allowed in your state, record the conversation. Then, once you have a “dossier”, approach HR. If they prove unwilling to help, I recommend that you leave—no job is worth your health.

    If you’re not already a member, I encourage you to find your local section of the Society of Women Engineers to find a better internship and permanent employer. Good luck!!


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