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.

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