Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Maternal Apprecation

During the process of planning my wedding and reading things about other's people's wedding planning, I am regularly thankful for all the maternal figures involved. My mother and step-mother both said "here's your budget: go plan a wedding that makes you happy". My soon-to-be mother-in-law has also been very relaxed about all of our choices.

I also realize I'm incredibly lucky to have my very own #scimom. Well, #STEMmom. Her degree is in mathematics and computer engineering, so she's a little bit of a mix. But as one of the earlier women in computer science, she has very likely faced many challenges from men who doubted her abilities over the years, but she never seemed to let it phase her. She took seven years away from her career until my sister and I were both in school, and my father quit his job to write his own drawing software. When she went back to work, she was quickly promoted for being that rare species of engineers: someone technically capable would could communicate very effectively with administrative people. However, she still does significant technical work regularly.

My sister and I were raised with the mindset of "You can do anything you put your decide to do and put in the effort to accomplish". However, unlike many women of the generation between my mother and I, we never got the message "in spite of everyone else". I've honestly always been a bit oblivious to sexism directed towards me. I assume I get asked secretary-type questions because a) I dress nicer than the average grad student, b) I'm at a desk with an open door, c)I don't look like English is my second or third language, and d) my apparent default facial expression is "How may I help you?" I've never attributed it specifically to my gender.

 Once in awhile, I will look up, and suddenly realize I'm the only woman in the room. Even in materials science, which is much closer to gender parity than most engineering fields, it happens. This doesn't really bother me. I've been told I can seem very intimidating (I don't try...  usually) or authoritative. This results in me getting asked if I'm in charge of events while 10 feet away from the person with the fancy badge.  Generally, though, I'm just confident that I know what I am capable of and I know what I'm hopeless at. I also try and be aware of what other people are good at, so that I can either ask them for help, or direct others to them when asked for help I can't give. I most definitely got this sense of confidence from my mother, though. And I'm very, very thankful for it.

1 comment:

  1. Once in awhile, I will look up, and suddenly realize I'm the only woman in the room.

    I think it's a pretty amazing feat that you get into these situations and are remain unfazed. I'm sure you're going to have a great career. All the best!