Today, someone at work referred to me as ‘one of the lads’. In some ways, I was quite flattered, as it means I am accepted in their world – the world of engineering and science. However, in another way, it’s disappointing to be always regarded in that way. It kind of steals my femininity….
Although I’ve worked most of my adult life in a manufacturing/engineering environment, it took me a while to be regarded as an equal in that world. Of course, when I started out it was the 1980s and women were much less accepted in the mans world of engineering in those days. I had to work quite hard at first to fit in, to have my opinion respected. But eventually I succeeded, to the point where I am included in engineering discussions and decisions. Even to the point of being one of the lads.
The advantages of that are many. For example, today I had a discussion with engineers and electricians, who were all waiting for my opinion before going ahead with some automation features on the latest project. And they did exactly what I suggested, happily!
I can also go to engineering shows and talk knowledgably with the men there (they are ALWAYS men).
But, there are also disadvantages. My job often means I get my hands dirty, making it virtually impossible to retain manicured nails! I always wear trousers at work due to the nature of the job and consequently I never feel very feminine. My clothes tend to be dull – grey, black or at least plain and utilitarian.
Last winter, I met some of my staff in town and they almost didn’t recognise my as I was wearing a red coat, one of my favourite colours! And I was wearing heels and a pretty scarf…
It was talked about for weeks!
But actually, I love to wear pretty things, I adore pink; have a passion for dangly earrings, nice floaty clothes, perfumes and high heels. I just don’t get much opportunity to wear things like that.
I’m quite girly, in my own way. I like painting my nails, playing with makeup, getting my hair done, all the things girls like to do.
I’m also a tomboy, in my own way. I like taking things to bits, playing with chemicals, working out mathematical problems, all tomboyish things to do.
So I guess I am my own personal conundrum. A girly tomboy!
I don’t suppose I can have it all ways, and while it is nice to be respected in a man’s world, sometimes it would be lovely to be treated like a lady.
It’s easier for men to think of me as ‘one of the lads’ because ladies just don’t speak that language. And in some ways, I suspect that having a girlfriend who knows how to build a computer from scratch is just not appealing to most of the men I meet!
Maybe when I retire I will dress like an ageing hippy, bedecked in floaty dresses, flowery scarves and loads of beads!
We will have to wait and see 🙂