A woman in STEM

Being a woman in the technology field comes with its own set of complications. I am fortunate to work for a great company, where women are valued and innovation is important, no matter who comes up with the idea. However, even in such a supportive and positive environment, there are several challenges that I face as a woman. 

  1. Representation: In one of our department’s all-employee meetings, I looked around the room and noticed that out of about 250 attendees, there were about 20 women in the room. All the presenters were men, and many of them didn’t acknowledge that there were women in the room, only referring to the “network guys” or the “guys in security”. Yes, I know that “guys” is a term often used to include both men and women, but it still felt exclusive. The main presenter and head of this department did mention the “ladies and gentlemen” who make things great here, so that was nice. I IMed him after the meeting and thanked him for seeing the women in the room. No one else seemed to. 
  2. Salary: No matter what anyone says, the pay gap exists. White women are paid 77c on the dollar, Black women are paid 64c on the dollar, and Latinas are paid 56c on the dollar, all in relation to men (Feminist Fight Club). I recently did the math and found out that I was indeed being paid 30% less than my market value. That was disturbing and a hard day. Also, I was never encouraged to fight for a good starting salary. I was always told to take what I could get and not negotiate. This could also be a generational problem, as jobs were harder to come by for millenials. 
  3. The need to be exceptional: This may be a more personal and internal struggle (which probably indicates that many people struggle with this). I always feel that my actions at work are scrutinized more closely than my male counterparts. If I get invested in a project and get upset if something doesn’t go to plan, I’m deemed too “emotional”. This puts a lot of pressure on me and other women to be exceptional at all times. Let’s be honest, no one is exceptional at all times. No. One. 
  4. Having my skills questioned: My skills are occasionally questioned or given a surprised reaction, like, how could a woman know how to do that? I enjoy bursting people’s’ bubbles on those occasions. Women are capable and intelligent. Women can do everything men can do. I occasionally have to confront my own engrained stereotypes and remember this, even as I ask others to do. 

These are just a few of the unique challenges I face as a woman working in technology. I am lucky to know a lot of women who work in STEM, and it’s cool to see their accomplishments, even in the face of adversity. I hope to inspire other women to work in STEM, so we can all rise together. 

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Pain series: Part 1

This series will be a record of the pain I’ve experienced since March 2016, in an effort both to remember the pain mostly “on paper” and to relieve some of the stress of experiencing it. Here’s the back story.

In March of 2016, I tore the meniscus in my left knee squatting, irritating it one day, and then tearing it completely catching a clean. Up until that point, I had only seriously injured myself once doing any weightlifting, and that was on a box, when I missed the jump and got a chunk of my leg taken out. This was worse than that, much worse. This injury led to months of knee pain, and eventually surgery.

Two weeks after that injury, I was lifting and was apparently off balance from my knee injury. I was deadlifting, and I popped a disc out between the L4 and L5 vertebrae. This has led to months and months of pain in my lower back, middle back, and all down my legs and feet. This brings me to present day.

It’s March 29, 2017 today. The pain I experience on a daily basis is occasionally forestalled by taking medicine. I take Tramadol and Meloxicam several times a week. That usually takes the pain away for about 12-18 hours. The pain travels down through my hips to the tip of my toes, occasionally numbing parts of my legs. The meds take the numbness away but then make other things numb.

This whole process has been really difficult mentally and emotionally. Fortunately I’ve had the best support system, with Jeb being wonderful at every turn, my parents being there for me, and my friends calling me and hanging out when I was sad.

End for now. Tired.