Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Working in a gender bending role....The positives

This will be the first of a two part series.  Because I like to consider myself an optimist,  I am going to start with the positives :).

First a bit of background.  I am a manufacturing engineer and I work in a 2.5M square foot manufacturing facility.  I work for one of the Big 3 American Automotive companies.  Yes, there are other women who work in my plant, but the majority of them do not work in an engineering capacity.  There are many hardworking women working on the production line, a few work in Finance, and then there are a few who work in the Administrative role.  These are all very important jobs within my company, but are more stereotypically "female."  Of the approximately 3,000 people employed at my plant, there are about 8 women in a "technical leadership role." 

1. I ALWAYS look good.  Seriously, if you are a woman who is feeling down on yourself, consider a career change.  I never go at least one day where I am not cat-called, oogled, hit on, or otherwise made to feel like men find me attractive.  Of course, these are the SAME men that wouldn't glance my way in a bar.  When compared to the competition in a plant, I AM the hot one, and frankly if feels good sometimes at my advanced maternal age.
2.  Just one of the guys.  After a while my breasts seem to lose their ability to make men check themselves in their manners.  At first when I started in this position, the "guys" would constantly be excusing themselves for swearing, putting down women, or otherwise just being men.  This may sound like a negative, but in actuality it is a good thing.  I get much more accomplished now that I am earning their respect for the quality of my work instead of the size of my bra. 

3.  Respect from folks outside of my plant.  I think that when acquaintances hear what I do for a career many of them are unnecessarily impressed.  In the grand scheme of things, I really don't think it is that impressive.  I mean, at the end of the day, exactly WHAT I am doing at work really will not mean anything in the long run.  The fact that I am a divorced mother with 3 young children who have all thus far managed to not become derelicts and be placed in juvie, well that is impressive!

4.  I can hold my own in just about any situation.  I was blessed to have earned a fair amount of education and experience in the last 42 years of living.  Working in manufacturing has given me the opportunities to learn about a lot of things many women wouldn't.  For example, HH and I are going to remodel our kitchen.  I have learned enough through my experiences that I feel confident in designing, planning, installing, and working on my own home.  Yeah, I know it makes you feel better that I am more concerned about engineering my own home than the car you drive your family around in daily.  The difference is, I have to LIVE in my kitchen daily, you, I may not even ever have to meet (just kidding, truly!). 

5.  I have a lot of male friends.  This is a good thing because even if I am totally not interested in any sporting/hunting/car racing/golfing/etc events I can discuss them with a level of intelligence as to not embarrass myself.  I gain these little tidbits through osmosis by having to hear the stats at the beginning and end of every meeting. 

6. Cutting through the bullshit.  Let's face it, talking with men is a totally different dynamic than talking with women.  Women are about the details, men are about the facts, in most cases.  Through dealing with mostly men, I have gained the ability to listen to a topic and pick out the relevant parts of it quickly and succinctly.  Why is this a positive? Because, when dealing with teachers, coaches, kids, contractors, doctors, husbands (wink), etc, I can listen to what they say and then hone in on the main points quickly.  This speeds things up tremendously, and frankly I do not have the time to listen to long drawn out stories when I have exactly 23 minutes to feed 3 kids and cart them to 3 separate activities all while sweeping the floors, doing dishes, and managing both HH and my EX's social calendars.

7.  The wardrobe.  I do not have to spend oodles of money on fancy clothes.  I wear basic pants, a blouse or a sweater, a blue supervisor's jacket complete with my name and company logo embroidered on my breasts, steel-toed shoes, bright yellow hard hat, and safety glasses EVERY SINGLE working day.  And, because men or so fashionably clueless, I rotate the same 5 outfits every single week (yeah, I know I dress like that and #1 still applies!).  Of course, they still ARE men, so I do have one low cut blouse that I pull out if I really need to get a job done more every time!  It's funny how making the girls a little more perky can remind these guys that I am STILL a woman ;-).

All in all, I am fortunate that I have a good job that allows me to have a decent home, comfortable life, and lots of opportunities to learn!

Be looking for the not so positives in the near future!


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