Friday, January 6, 2012

in the sea

Anita is a blog friend who, in my preference, doesn't blog nearly enough.  But when she does, it's always something interesting and thought provoking.  She's done it again in writing about being the LBW (Lone Black Woman).

She ends by asking her readers:
How often are you the lone (fill in the blank)?

Before I was a mom, I was an engineer.  More specifically, a mechanical engineer.  More specifically, a manufacturing engineer.  I truly enjoyed my job, and did it for about 10 years.  But once the babies came along, the whole thing sort of lost its luster, and I hung up my factory toys when Chaco was 3 and Wolfgang was 18 months. 

<-- Amy from "Big Bang Theory".  She's awesome!

But during those years, and certainly during my time in college, I was often the lone female at meetings, on design teams, etc.  I honestly didn't think about it that much.  I suppose that growing up in a neighborhood full of boys had amply prepared me for my academic and professional lives. 

And, I think it's safe to say, that the majority of the men I worked with had no problem with me either.  I know it was awkward for a few at first, but once they got to know me, all was fine. 

At the last place I worked, when I was a new-hire, I was assigned a "mentor" to work beside while he showed me the various ropes.  He was older - in his early 60's - and close to retirement.  We became very good friends.  Later, he confessed to me, that when our boss told him that he would be training me, he "wanted nothing to do with it!".   He confessed this to me at a company picnic, after he'd had a few beers.  He went on to say what a blessing our working relationship had turned out to be, and I wholeheartedly agree.

For the younger guys, those closer to my own age, I never felt like it was an issue at all.  We all worked side-by-side, not "genderless" by any means, but simply comfortable with each other.  The whole "lone girl" thing would sometimes come up as just a fun aside. 

I do remember one guy, though.  I think he was just uncomfortable around women in general.  He was  mid-40's at the time.  We were at a design meeting discussing certain components.  Parts that fit together are often referred to as "male" and "female" for obvious reasons.  This man stopped, mid-discussion, looked at me, the lone female,  and asked, "Does it offend you that we refer to these as 'male' and 'female'?"

I almost wanted to laugh.  I almost wanted to make some sarcastic p*nis/v*gina remark.  In the end, I just assured him that no, I was not offended.

We're all just people.  I included the pic of Amy (not a mech. engineer, she's a neurobiologist, but fits the stereotype just fine) from "Big Bang Theory" since, despite my disinterest in most of TV, I do enjoy that show.  Probably because I can relate to all of the characters, and it makes me reminiscent of my working girl days.  I'll end with an Amy quote:

"Sheldon, sometimes you forget, I'm a lady. And, with that comes an estrogen-fueled need to page through thick glossy magazines that make me hate my body."


Anonymous said...

When I was in my bowling hayday, in order to improve myself I would bowl with men - as they were the "good bowlers". I found myself in many "men's" tournaments (because I bought myself a men's sanction card), and was constantly subjected to girl jokes and comments. I was okay with it all though. Kinda like you, I feel very comfortable in a group of men, and don't usually think of myself as different, and for me, I just wanted to bowl against somebody who gave me a challenge - so I just ignored all the comments. A few times though, I would catch a lot of flack for being a girl in a men's tournament. I'm sure it's because they were afraid I would beat them. :)

terri said...

So funny that Shadowrun commented on bowling among men, because that is the first thing I thought of as I read this post. In my summer league, I am usually the lone woman. And quite honestly, I feel more relaxed among that group. Men have fewer expectations. They don't pretend to be something they're not, unlike many of the women I know. They're not in competition with each other - well, on a personal level, I mean. Among women, I tend to feel a sense of competition, no matter how slight and it tends to do with physical appearance - beauty and the pursuit of perfection. I hate that. I like that among men, you just get what you get.

BTW, I love Amy/Blossom!

terri said...

P.S. I was just telling Kacey about your post and she said, "I'm usually the lone sane person in this household!"

She might be right.

Anita said...

I don't watch much night time TV, so I've never seen Big Bang Theory. Now that I've read that quote at the bottom of the post (my kind of humor), I'm curious and may have to find it.

When I read your comment on my LBW post, I was glad to hear your thoughts, as always, but I wanted more. And now I have it!

Thank you for writing it. It sounds like you handled your "lone" staus like a pro, which is to be the best you can be, providing proof to those who need it, and who come back later eating humble pie.

I always like reading the comments on your posts, of your other blog friends. I feel that we're together in "Abby's Club" and I'm getting to know them through you. :) I'll be watching to hear some more stories.

I'm very touched by the shout out, friend.

Rebecca S. said...

Anita is a good blog-world friend, and I always enjoy her posts, too.
We are Big Bang Theory fans, too. Amy reminds me of my friend Val, who is super brainy and funny too. I know what you mean about being comfortable with men and working with them not being an issue. I had a dad who valued my mother's intelligence more than anything, and two brothers, so I've never felt intimidated either.
But you are a mechanical engineer? Wow! (she nods,and looks suitably impressed)

agg79 said...

I knew there was always something kept me coming back. Mechanical Engineer. As a fellow ME, I can appreciate your loner status. There are always those who would keep you isolated from the herd (if you let them). You just have to find your own common ground.

And, FWIW, around here, I am the lone insane person.

CiCi said...

I am the lone person who does not ever watch TV, does not drink alcohol or smoke. Looking past these issues, I find many things I have in common with lots of people, male or female and all ages.
It never ceases to amaze me how often a TV show is brought up by everyone. At those times I cannot join in because I don't know what they are talking about and I don't want to preach the boob tube theory to them.