I usually follow these stories when they happen in the software world because there are so few female hardware engineers that we are mostly ignored. However, this time two events have happened that really made me take notice:
2. C64 Master, Jeri Ellsworth gets put down by the company she blasts for an expensive design that she redesigns for a fraction of the offending company’s cost.
On one hand, I am happy that we have a female engineer on the cover of Wired. I’m just troubled it took so long for the magazine to do it. Limor is a wonderful choice. I love that it’s a hardware person.
Jeri is incredible and I was still feel in awe after meeting her several years ago at a conference. I was even more shocked when she remembered me at a vintage computer festival. The person who attacked her clearly is not aware of how accomplished she is. I can’t think of anyone who would even question her technical talents.
But back in the real world of engineering not everyone (man or women) has made their mark in the engineering world. Most of us have to deal with a cockfight every time we present something to the world. For a women, it often means we deal, not with questions about our technical merits like most men do. Instead we deal with questions about our looks or simple discredit because of our gender. If we aren’t pretty enough, we get crap about that. If we are too pretty, someone else did our work for us or we simply slept our way to the spotlight. Minor mistakes are ascribed to our gender and its inability to do the job of an engineer instead of just an understandable occurrence to overlook. And if we don’t post a visual presence, we must be too ugly, fat, or lesbian to be heard.
In the office, we get to deal with a great deal of condescension or simply ignorance our contributions.
I know a great deal of us want to believe its just a few jerks on a forum but if we don’t speak up online or in the office when we see this, then we aren’t help anyone.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” -Edmund Burke
Regardless, today is a good day.
For more information on the hidden world of the crap female engineers put up with, check out Geek Feminism’s “Timeline of Incidents” page.