Hey! Long time no talk! Buckle your seatbelts and get ready for a pretty long update, mostly about rockets. Continue reading “Cowboy Rocketworks Putting in Work”
So I was asked by a graduated high school senior what it’s like to be a female in such a male-dominated area. She mentioned that a lot of the reactions she gets when she tells someone she’s going to school to become an engineer are those of shock, paired with some skeptic feedback. She asked me how/if that changes, and what advice I had to give her as she starts her freshman year in the fall.
To start this off and put it in a little bit of perspective, I have some stats to share with you. For my specific university, in our college of engineering:
- 16% of overall graduates are female
- 11.6% of Mechanical and Aerospace graduates are female
- Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is made up of 1,582 students as a department, including graduate students
Put it all together and that means that there are 184 female students in the Mechanical and Aerospace program at OSU. Outside of OSU, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Aerospace workforce is made up of 13.3% females.
Those are some pretty some small numbers if you ask me.
Now, I’ve always had a driven, go-getter sort of attitude, and I’ve always loved math and science, so I’ve pretty much always been told I was going to be an engineer. Then again, that probably has something to do with the fact that Mom was an engineer as well, so I always had a strong, STEM female role model.
That being said, I was always met by someone who would ask me what I’m going to school for, then raise an eyebrow upon receiving my answer. I wish I could tell you that it gets better, but it doesn’t. It continues. It’s some strange combination of sexism and societal expectations that somehow is perpetually in place. It. Sucks.
Now, don’t lose heart. Because it may be small numbers, and we may be surrounded, but that doesn’t mean they’ve got us beat.
What I have discovered is that you can’t expect the guys around you to do you any favors. At first, they sort of try to coddle you. Then, they try to take charge. Don’t let them. Be their friends, of course, or else you won’t have any. Join their study groups, be in their clubs and on their teams. Join Student Council, become president of a professional organization. Outscore them on an exam. Don’t let them perpetuate the stigma that women can’t be successful in the field, because dammit we kick ass once we get there.
Everyone in engineering school is amazing, but so are you. It doesn’t matter what differences you may have. Sometimes you just need to make them know that.
I make it sound like I’m bitter and angry, but honestly I love my guys. My study group are my friends, and my family. There are 10 of us, and two of us are girls. They’re my lunch crew, my football buddies, the people I go get ice cream with at 9:00 at night. They’re my people and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
It’s kind of funny. Sometimes we’ll be studying, and I’ll be in my head, and I’ll be having a meltdown and telling myself that I can’t do it, that engineering isn’t the right place for me. But then they talk me down from my mental ledge, they remind me that I’m the one keeping study sessions on track, I’m the one who crushed that Thermo exam last week, I’m the one who is now an Ambassador for the college, who has a fancy scholarship. They’re my reality check, if that makes sense.
As a female in engineering, you’ll be surrounded by boys, there’s no doubt about that. But it’s going to be what you make of it. Put yourself out there, make yourself known. Introduce yourself to the people around you and to the professor. You’ll find the way that you’re meant to shine. I promise.
Okay, so I was watching Hulu’s show Resident Advisors, and saw these screencaps of Sam’s room:
I quickly fell in love, and felt an overwhelming need to create my own version. My version doesn’t have nearly as much stuff on it yet, as my semester hasn’t started yet (I’ll try to post more pictures as the semester goes on so you can see a more realistic example the hyperbolized version above of a student with 7 jobs).
First, you’ll want to gather some supplies.
- A desk pad calendar – Mine is Staples brand and 22″ wide, but the one pictured from Resident Advisors is At-A-Glance, and 24″ wide.
- A roll of cork – You’ll need to make sure it’s wide enough to fit the calendar you’ve picked. The roll I got is 24″ wide, and 96″ long, then cut into 4 pieces. If your roll is 48″ long, grab a second one.
- Sticky notes in whatever colors you want.
- Colored pens to coordinate with your stickies.
- Push pins
- Planner or calendar, or wherever you keep your important dates.
- Push pins
- Command strips or whatever you would like to use to hang your pieces of cork. My university has a policy against push pins in the walls, so if yours does as well, plan accordingly.
First, cut your roll of cork down to size. Most rolls are thin, and break apart easily, so be careful. I should have measured mine out more carefully, but I just sort of eyeballed it using my calendar.
Next, figure out your color system.
(Disclaimer: I promise the Mat Sci and Thermo stickies are different colors) I used the same system that I have in my planner. In addition to my sticky notes, I also use a red pen to fill in my shifts at the desk.
Now you can start filling in dates. So far I just have my training days, a few desk shifts, the start of classes, and the semester holidays up.
Now attach your Command Strips to your pieces of corks, and hang them wherever you desire. I chose directly above my desk.
Using push pins, I hung the calendar sheets up, and secured the larger sticky notes. If you’re in college or renting, just push the pin in far enough to break through the cork, but not far enough to break the surface of the wall.
As you can see, my pieces are cut a little uneven. Also, since the cork came in a roll, it’s puckering a bit around the top and bottom edges. I plan on going through and putting a bit of poster putty where it’s rolling.
I lined my stickies up along the bottom of the piece like Sam did in Resident Advisors. And that’s it, now you’re done!
I’ve gotten a few more door decs done 🙂
For those of you wondering how I did all of these, I based the characters off of some Star Wars emojis posted by CNET. Each character is made out of layers of card stock, hand cut and hand drawn (as time consuming as that is). Fortunately, I had most of winter break to make these happen, so I was able to do just a couple a day and have enough by the time the semester started for all of my residents, my entire staff, and a number of other staff members across campus.
My Yoda door decs for my Star Wars floor in the spring are so adorably perfect.
I based these little guys off some emojis posted by CNET, and then cut out the shapes accordingly and layered the cardstock.