As women in engineering, ever think about whether you’ll be the only female in your class, whether teachers would treat you differently, or even if other girls not studying engineering would accept you? While initially these thoughts may be concerning, as a female engineer at USC, I haven’t even given them a second thought.
I’ve never felt like the only female in any of my chemical engineering classes. In fact, a lot of my study groups are about fifty-fifty male and female. I’ve even found that the SI (Supplemental Instruction) leaders and academic tutors,who are also engineers, I go to for homework help are both male and female. Walking through Ronald Tutor Hall, a central location of Viterbi, you won’t find just males, rather a nice mix of women and men eating lunch, studying and working together.
My engineering professors have also been male and female. They’ve both provided helpful advice regarding the possible industries and jobs available after graduating. I’ve never felt that gender was a deciding factor in how I’ve been evaluated as an engineer. At USC career fairs, a nice mix of males and females show up–all of which I’ve found are treated equally.
Moreover, my friends whether in engineering, theater, business or art: we’re all driven in our respective interests. We respect each other for what we’ve accomplished in our field based on skill and dedication — not the idea that we wear dresses or can put on makeup. For instance, a large portion of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers E-board are females. We all found an interest in pursuing chemical engineering and networking and thus gain experience in leadership.
Instead of feeling uncomfortable about being a woman in engineer, embrace it–take the classes you’re interested in, talk to professors and classmates and go after that dream job. Realize that as a student in Viterbi you’re not discriminated for being a woman, but respected for being an engineer.