Thursday, April 7, 2011

Girls vs. Boys

When I decided I wanted to be an environmental engineer, it crossed my mind that engineering is usually thought of as a male dominated force, but this is the 21st century a girl can do whatever she wants! Well that mindset isn't shared by everyone, as I've discovered.
It hadn't really occurred to me that in most of my classes I can count the number of girls in them on one hand. I don't go around keeping track, I'm just in class to learn. However being the minority I kind of call attention to myself. Maybe it's because I have blonde hair or maybe it's because I am a girl. Lately I've been very frustrated by how I've been treated by some of my male peers. Let me set up a situation:
I'm partnered with another guy on a physics lab. Me and my partner know each other, we work well together, we're friends, we chose to work together. Anyway we're working on a computer beside another group consisting of two guys. We're all doing the same lab. So my partner and I are chugging along doing the calculations, when suddenly the other group leans over to tell us we're doing it wrong. pause. " I think we're following the directions and doing what it says in the lab and on the board." I give him a chance to further explain. He does, I can clearly see how he is confused, and begin to explain how he is actually in the wrong. I'm just trying to help him understand. He is not hearing any of it, so my partner tries to help him understand what they're doing wrong. He just keeps trying to say how we're the ones that are doing it wrong. We go back and forth on this small matter for some time. In the end my partner and I just sigh and move on. We don't bother to ask the teacher, we know we're right. I can tell my face is red. I move on with the lab but the whole time I'm thinking the only reason he even said anything is because I'm a girl! I was the one at the computer, I was the one typing the calculations in, I'm the girl. My partner doesn't seem to notice this. I mean this guy must have been looking at our computer because he wasn't confident in the work he was doing, but when he saw that our answer was different he assumed he was right, and took the opportunity to show off this intellect. Maybe I'm wrong, I very well could be.
Another situation:
I'm working on a couple physics problems that stumped me, with my same lab partner mentioned earlier. We've chosen to meet up outside of class. The homework problems we're doing are online and you submit the answers and get immediate feedback as to whether it's right or wrong. The best part (or worst part) is that you get to try the answer an unlimited amount of times until you get it right. Most of my problems turn out to be I needed to add 180 degrees to my angle or some other ridiculous physics concept like that. I'm no physics genius but I grasp the concepts. Well now that I've got all my problems solved, I notice he still has one wrong. I check it out, I got that one right without his help. I offer to try and help him. He laughs, "No offense" he says "But I've worked it through multiple times, I even had another guy look at it and work it through and he got the same answer as me." I smile, well I can at least try it. "Fine" he says, "go for it." So I do. In under five minutes I have the problem and the correct answer typed into the computer. He's pretty shocked that I get it right, in fact as I explain to him what I did, I think he is too shocked to even understand what I'm saying. In this case, I know he didn't mean to sound like he didn't think I could do it because I was a girl, he just knows he has more experience with physics than me. Which is entirely true, this is my first physics course ever.
I'm not ashamed to admit it or ask for help, even if I have to ask a guy. So why does it seem that guys won't ask girls for help? Why especially in the Math and Science areas do guys always act like they know everything?
Maybe I'm just being old fashioned but I thought girls not being treated equal to guys was a thing of the past. Well if that isn't the case yet I plan to make it true. I'm a girl, I enjoy math and science, and not to toot my own horn, but I'm pretty good at it mind you. Think about it guys, I've taken all the same classes as you to get to this point, which must mean something.

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