You would think as a advanced degree holding Mechanical Engineer I would also automatically be a card carrying feminist. Well it may be true now, but it wasn’t a few years ago. Sure I chose a profession that was predominantly male but it was only because I always liked finding out how things worked. Sure my classes in college (*cough* 20 year ago) were on average 15% female but the male students never treated me differently (ok there was flirting but hey it was college). Sure, I still go to conferences or work with larger companies and I’m surrounded by mostly men. BUT, I can’t say I ever felt strongly discriminated against. The men have treated me like what I am, another engineer.
Now, working at a tiny company and not having to deal with hoards of male engineers and managers all day I can say that I’m lucky. I know women who have had to deal with a lot of crap STILL in this industry so I’m not saying that discrimination isn’t out there, just that I haven’t had to deal with it. Plus, I married a man who I feel truly thinks of me as his equal. This meant that I could stay in my little bubble and not have to think about it.
Then I had daughters…
Having daughters changed everything. Suddenly all the sexist things that I had ignored were a big deal. The parade of pink useless toys down every “girl” toy aisle was appalling. The movies marketed to my kids were full of anti-feminist messages. I discovered a shortage in good STEM books that would appeal to and inspire young girls. The older my daughters got, the more of an outspoken feminist I became (and the more my blog posts moved away from the fluffy kid stuff). I knew to ignore the often subtle sexist messages but would my daughters? Or would they grow up feeling just not quite as smart/strong/funny/equal to a man?
So I’m not actually a card carrying member of the ACLU but I am one of SWE (Society of Women Engineers) and I’ve started a Girl Scout troop (with my awesome husband) where we focus on more than crafts and fluffy stuff but throw in a lot of science and girl power lessons.
And most importantly, I tell my girls every day how smart and strong and clever and funny and wonderful they are. They are our next generation of leaders and I want to see them excel.
I wasn’t a feminist before I had daughters, but now I would proudly shout it from the roof tops if it helps them to be successful both in their professional and (almost more importantly) personal lives.