'When I grow up I want to be an engineer just like you Mama!'
A warm fuzzy from my 3-year-old on the anniversary of the tragedy at the École Polytechnique. On December 6th 1989, 14 women were separated from their male classmates and murdered for simply being at an engineering school.
I graduated from high school the same year most of the victims were scheduled to complete their mechanical engineering degrees. Now a mechanical engineer myself, they are women who would have.. could have.. should have been my mentors. I didn't know any of them personally, but I do know that this male dominated profession is lesser without them. I can only imagine how much they are missed by those who did.
First we mourn. Then we work for change.
I've worked as an engineer for over 15 years. Unfortunately, I've felt the hostility some express toward women in this male dominated profession. Thankfully, I've worked with many many others who clearly welcome my contribution.
I follow the CorpGoth blog which recently put a call out asking 'What's your work 'uniform' or go-to outfit?' Engineers are not a demographic known for their fashion stylings. Most of us are easily identified by the khaki pants and a polo shirt worn day, after day, after day… Sadly, I'm pretty guilty of dressing to type.
I work as a machine safety consultant. I review equipment to determine whether it meets safety codes to prevent workers from getting hurt. Most days are some combination of in the car driving out to a client, out on a factory floor looking at machines and in the office typing out reports. My clients make a wide range of things so I could be looking at an assembly machine for car parts or robots stacking ice cream tubs depending on the day.
A life long inability to match colours provides me with an excuse to feed my own preference for wearing too much black. My casual and work wardrobes rarely venture very far from my black/gray/burgundy safety zone which is exactly what I am wearing here:
Along with the burgundy top and plain black pants, I'm wearing steel-toed safety shoes and safety glasses. I usually carry a black leather bag with a tablet, camera, measuring tape and smartphone. Normally, my hair is pulled back into some sort of bun-like pile to prevent it from getting accidentally pulled into the equipment. Different factories have different safety requirements so depending on the client I could be adding any combination of ear plugs, hairnet, hard hat, shoe booties or more rugged safety boots to the ensemble. Most places don't allow jewelry on the factory floor, so I never accessorize beyond the engineering iron ring I always wear.
I've learned the hard way that black is a poor choice to wear to a paper mill and white should never be worn in a chocolate factory. Skirts of any kind pretty much guarantee that I'll find myself climbing a ladder or walking across an open grating platform so I don't. Some high security facilities have 'metal free' requirements which limit clothing options to something resembling workout wear (can't even wear a bra with hooks or pants with a zipper). One particular facility even required a strip search on the way out; thankfully, I only visited once.
So there it is. Not exactly fashionable, but the bar is set pretty low to begin with. I try to wear clothes that look professional but are simple and comfortable enough to allow me to get down on a dirty floor to look under machinery.
It is Thanksgiving weekend up here North of the 40th parallel and I've got a case of the sniffles. I know I've got a lot to be thankful for when a minor cold is my biggest problem.
To the best of my knowledge everyone I care about is healthy or on the mend. All of our parents are doing well. Simon's Dad made it through a quintuple bypass last month and is improving daily. My own father continues to defy the odds and has a clean bill of health over 12 years after a stage 4 cancer diagnosis and Portia's paternal grandparents are healthy as horses. Kids, babies and friend's baby in progress are growing. What more could I ask for?
Simon has taken charge of T-day dinner while I break out my kitchen assistant skills. One of my part-time jobs in undergrad was as a dish-pig at a local pub. For minimum wage I prepped food, mixed salads, washed dishes, worked the deep fryer and learned to make everything on the menu. Back in town for my 10 year reunion the owner confirmed me as holding the title of only female to work that kitchen, both then and since. I've claimed that title in every engineering job as well. Seems I have a well established tradition in that regard.
I've been marvelling at how much has changed over the last few years. Seemed like a good time to capture a snapshot of what things look like right now.
I recently came across the New Domesticity website discussing our cultures current fetishization of all things domestic especially when combined with parenting. Fascinating stuff. I've been reading mommyblogs for years and most definitely show signs of having drunk the blog-porn koolaid. Knitting, home diy, organic food eating, and blogging definitely top my favoured leisure activities list.
My problem though, is that I cannot figure out where everyone else is finding the time. For me, having a kid pushed all that stuff not just onto the backburner, but right off the damn stove. Judging by the funk of organic baby spinach mixed with alpaca, I think it spilled down the back and may be decomposing onto the floor... Daycare dropoff and pick up, work, dog walking, dinner and playing with the kiddo quickly use up the weekday with maybe an hour left over to drink a beer and catch up with Simon. Maybe it is just proof that I'm not a super mommy. When the kid heads out to spend time with her Dad/Grandparents and free time does appear I selfishly spend it picking at the pile of books or catching up with this century (aka any tv show produced after 2008).
The logical part of me is okay with that and knows that aiming for just being a decent parent who loves her kid and keeps the mortgage paid. But there is something about the current media that says I should also be harvesting tomatos, sewing quilts, planning elaborate harvest feasts, raising chickens in the back yard and documenting it all with perfectly curated photoshopped images that get posted to the blog more than once a season....
Ultimately, what this is probably telling me is that media could use a few more voices beyond those making it seem like all that is doable for those of us living in the real world. But who is going to blog/facebook about heating up frozen pizza and having family dinner in front of Netflix?