Machine Designer 

From Casey

A lot of things have happened to me in my STEM career as a machine designer. I think the worst was that I passed by a group of my male coworkers in a hallway and one of them patted my butt. And then one of them giggled. My humiliation was much worse than I would have expected, and yes, I went home and cried. It was so unexpected and personal and I can’t find the words to express how deeply it wounded me. But I can explain WHY. There were 3 other men in that group who said nothing. Perhaps they thought it was amusing, IDK. No one confided to me that they thought that I had been wronged. By not saying anything they were part of a group, and this is the crux of the problem. Almost no one wants to challenge the status quo. At that particular company, to show support for me was to invite ostracism. So the entire time I worked there (on and off for 7 years as a contractor, they liked my work, and apparently I was a masochist) I felt alienated, isolated, and bullied (and I was bullied). Every day. Not a single friend. And resented too because of Affirmative Action (yes I overheard that many times and I don’t think they cared if I heard or not), but you know what? That was an excuse. Not a reason. My work was excellent and ought to have meant more than just a “female advantage”. It’s really something to feel that it is just you against so many others. Made me feel as if I was the problem. And I was. When I reported harassment for another reason later on, guess what happened? I got fired. As I said, I was good at my job, so I got more than just a couple of references. The people who were above me actively sought out other jobs for me. My peers were the problem, not the higher uppers. I don’t think the higher uppers were aware of my pain. Of course not. I kept it to myself. To do otherwise would have been to be perceived as weak. At least that’s what I thought. I have worked other places which were almost as bad, and some places with pleasant and supportive coworkers. Of course the awesome work environments came after the initial series of bad ones. Had I known there were better places to work I would have gone elsewhere rather than tolerate the BS.

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