I never imagined that in a male-dominated field will be so difficult for a lady. I was often while attending college classes with merely one to a few women – I was studying mechanical engineering. It was not a concern, and now we got along well using the guys. No one prepared me for I would encounter, once I began working.
After college, I was hired by a power utility company. After a training period (where I was sent to some nuclear power plant twice), I was assigned with a coal-fired power plant for a few years.
I was the only female inside plant – there was clearly a replacement front desk clerk who has been female (but she was very jealous of me entering… “her territory” – I was so happy if the original desk clerk returned to work – she was great).
Below are things I needed to put up with:
– There was smoking on the job, and smoking was everywhere (I have been a non-smoker).
– Coal dust was everywhere.
– Asbestos dust was a student in the air.
– Men wouldn’t trust me as to what I did. A woman had no credibility.
– Some of my bosses perceived me becoming a secretary type to try and do their typing and the like.
– There were “nudie” pin-ups everywhere.
– There were nudie magazines within the bathrooms (called “reading material”) and guys would spend much time in those bathrooms. The bathrooms were always disgusting.
– When the men’s wives called on the phone, and I answered, they might often get terse or hostile beside me.
– There were many unfounded rumors about me.
– Management decided that I needed a women’s bathroom using a shower, and so the maintenance department built a bath room, changing area and shower. I figured they likely built a peephole too – so I didn’t utilize shower (I lived a lot less than 5 minutes away so there is no need to shower there, anyway). I always a jacket covering me aided by the facility.
– It was simpler to wash my work clothes if hosed I them off first, all the ground-in dust and oil.
– One boss started a cash pool to offer the guys guess my measurements – anf the husband asked me to express to him what my measurements are, in order that he could select a winner – what? I was so angry and hurt – no, I didn’t be sure he understands or anyone! Then I realized I was probably being sized up and stared at through the people inside the power plant.
– Sometimes the blokes in my office sought out for liquid lunch – so I was required to cover for them within the afternoon, as they hung out in the lake until they sobered up.
– One day, the mechanics thought we would sit on the stairs producing my office area, keeping me from rising. I was frustrated but had steel toed shoes on, so I climbed over them to go to where I needed to travel – I’m not sure if I hurt anyone, but they also never blocked me again.
– One time, I was about to check the vibration with a fan (that it was a really big fan), however, if I opened the entranceway to the room, a person was peeing into your drain hole. I dropped the threshold handle in shock, however I decided that I was said to be in there (anf the husband was not said to be doing that), so I walked in. He had run quickly out with an arc of pee dropping from the environment. He had apparently gone for the control room and confessed – so within the hour, there have been notices posted around that explained towards the men to make use of the restrooms, rather than any other section of the plant.
– I was asked repeatedly to sleep by of the blokes – one was frustrated because his wife was pregnant and “unappealing” – no, I wouldn’t oblige.
– Guys analyzed the catwalks to try and see something (like anyone can see anything with my jeans/overalls on?).
– Women would get rated while they walked through the welder area – they’d all emerge and watch us walk and rate us (this was for the next plant, where I worked for 6 months after 5 years in the first one).
Changes were made as time passes. Nudie posters dropped, though in large they remained in the maintenance tool cabinets. More safety procedures were place into place. The men learned to respect me countless realized I could contribute.
They eventually pointed out that I was excellent with balancing rotating equipment (I became considered one of 3 “balancing experts” inside company). We spent several hours and nights balancing, since the large equipment may very well be taken out of service in the evening, when energy load was lower.
The operators grudgingly permit me to teach them how to make use of the computer – in the event the controls were switched out of pneumatic to electronic.
The plant manager once required for a walk and talked about about situations – he made changes, including transferring the then current boss out, and stopping the liquid lunches.
In all truth, this power plant ended up to become more bearable in several ways, over that several years. I am fortunate that no person forced himself on me – but I was very assertive this. I produced few friends from the plant who looked out in my opinion. The second plant wasn’t comfortable for me to be effective at, in spite of more women there.
I once was approached suit the company for that discrimination I addressed (I didn’t sue, as I felt I would have trouble finding another job, together with the stigma on the lawsuit in this little back, and I knew it could be very emotional).
I honestly was the main “#MeToo” culture. I endured quite a lot of adversity, to be a woman within a man’s work field. I’m just glad that I helped make changes that could help other women after me.