Archive for November, 2018

22 years and nothing has changed

Today I was thrown back 22 years to 1996.

Back then, I was a software consultant in my first job out of college. Based in Cambridge, MA, we were the closest employees to the Seybold conference. So we represented our small startup, where most of the company was based in Windsor, England. A reporter from the Boston Globe stopped by with a photographer.

That was the day that it was first assumed I couldn’t possibly be a software engineer.

Neither the reporter or the photographer asked me my job title. Anyone in the company would have joked that I was Vice President of US Operations since Sebastian had claimed the President title. I was really a software engineer.

The Boston Globe gave me the title of Marketing Specialist.

It was the first, but not the last time I would be offended.

No one asked me.

They just assumed.

There have been other times through my career where people have downplayed my role. I just shrug it off as ignorance. I often get confused as an EPM. Or as someone’s wife. Or as recruiting. Or anything besides an engineer.

Yesterday, a colleague asked me what I was dressed up as for Halloween. I said I was dressed as a female engineer.

I was just kidding around. But at the same time, I now realize I wasn’t.  People don’t seem to recognize female engineers.

This morning, I read an article about a black woman on a Delta flight who was questioned multiple times about her being a physician while she was taking care of an ill passenger. I complained to my boyfriend about how it was 2018 and people couldn’t believe a black woman could be a doctor. I feel like she has it worse than I do.

Today, I answered my cell phone.

“Hey, this is ____, I have a delivery for A. I haven’t delivered to your building before. Can you text me the address?”

I was flustered. I sent him the address. It was dumb. I also got the sense it was real.

The guy and his buddy appeared from the elevator with a gigantic package. It didn’t look like a bomb like I feared. So I helped them deliver it to the destination.

Why did they call me?

My best answer is that they called the recipient. He didn’t answer. When they looked at him in the directory, he didn’t have any female employees. So they looked at his boss who had one female employee. So they called me. I must be the admin.

I texted back later, after the delivery and said, “Hey, if you need to deliver something again, here is our admin’s name and phone number.”

I joked about it later. But the longer I joked about it, the more I realized I was actually pissed off. It brought me back to the article on the Boston Globe where I was first misclassified.

Twenty-two years later, and I’m still not recognized.

2018 is no better than 1996. Except that I recognize me. The rest of you can pick up your own fucking packages.