When I was growing up, my best friend was the boy down the street. As far back as I can remember we were always together. As a result, the games we played seemed to more than less often include sports, role playing, and many other games that usually were played by little boys. Yet here I was, a young girl with hair to my bottom keeping up as much as I could with my friend. The fact that I was a girl never seemed to matter and I never let it keep me from doing what I wanted.
That childhood friendship eventually faded but what remained was an independance and disregard for any preconditioned notion of gender specific roles. He played with my dolls and I played hockey goalie. It never seemed to matter. The funny thing came as I grew older. Old enough to realize but not quite understand that girls don't play with boys, but young enough to not yet have an interest in boys other than as friends.
Fast forward as high school was coming to an end, it was time to make a career decision. I wanted to make a difference and I wanted to show all those who thought girls couldn't do things that guys do that they were wrong. I chose the field of electrical engineering because I enjoyed it, yet in the back of mind part of me chose it because it was male dominated and I wanted to show that I could hold myself in a field such as this.
I went from attending an all girls high school to attending an all boys college (almost). The college was primarily engineering based so the ratio was about 25% female to 75% male. Right away it was evident that this was a male career field. Often I was one of the only females in my classes. Very quickly however I learned that I could use this to my advantage. I was an A student and didn't get so by using any of the males in my class, however, they were more than willing to help if I ever asked for it. If another male classmate had asked, I doubt that they would have done the same.
As I began my career I started to realize that being a female in a male world had its advantages and disadvantages. Same as in college, other males were more willing to help me out than they would for their male coworkers. However, the male world began to become evident to me. The manufacturing world is not always the most classy place to work. However often I felt I was being treated differently because I was the female. Constantly I am asking to be treated as any other guy, not differently because I am a female. Sometimes, because I am female, I get the feeling my ideas and thoughts and abilities get discounted because of this fact. Thus I have to work twice as hard as any male to prove that I can do not only just as good of a job but a better job.
Being a female in a male dominated career has proven to be character building for me. I've learned a lot from the opposite sex that I never would have had I not chosen this path. (N0t to mention the drama I'm avoiding by being only one of three females at my company.) I would encourage any woman wanting to push herself to move into a male dominated career field.