Next, he poked his head into the hallway, "Hey Abby, will you c'mere for a minute?"
Turns out there was some trade magazine there to do an article about my professor and some new equipment he'd successfully acquired for the university through a grant. Of course, they wanted to include photos of him - a bit of a "celebrity" in the world of manufacturing - and were setting up when I walked passed.
The photo shoot came to include the professor, the equipment, and a girl. Check out the state-of-the-art technology! Ignore the 80's hair...
|Obscurely famous professor and a girl|
Magnum and I still laugh about that episode. How my prof didn't say,"Hey, you wanna engineering student in the picture?" Nope, I knew why I'd been chosen. It was a way to say, "Look how trendy we are - robotic stuff and girl students!" My ethnic look probably didn't hurt either.
Shortly after that, I was out in the working girl world and once again was asked to be a girl in a picture. This time, for a company recruiting brochure. I went to the designated area that was set up to look like one of our typical cubicles. I sat at the table with Marvin, pretending to analyze a drawing, while the photographer took pretty pictures.
Marvin was a black guy.
We both knew why we'd been chosen. It was a way to say, "Look how trendy we are - black and female engineers!" We were also both relatively young at the time. I still remember how we were actually joking about that "assignment" while the cameras clicked.
I've never been one to "soapbox" about more girls joining the STEM professions. While I'm certainly happy for anyone who wants to join in, I don't see it as a gender issue. Like any other field, it should be chosen because of an inherent interest. I ended up "retiring" to the mommy track. Do I regret that decision? Not one bit. Do I miss being an employed engineer? Absolutely.
Yesterday, when I learned of Sally Ride's death, I was a bit sad. She became the first US woman astronaut at about the same time I graduated high school. I was also surprised to learn that she'd had pancreatic cancer. I guess I wasn't the only one. Despite here noted achievements, she was not in the limelight much. Her choice apparently. I'm sure she got tired of being asked so often about her femaleness.
Still, I hope she knows that she inspired many. Rest In Peace, Sally Ride.