to girls: how to survive in a male-dominated field

In my case: out of 30 engineers-to-be in class, only I was the girl (image taken from http://careergirlnetwork.com)
In my case: out of 30 engineers-to-be in class, only I was the girl (image taken from http://careergirlnetwork.com)

Confession: I did something crazy last weekend – I spent the whole Saturday and Sunday going to Bandung with my 2 male best friends. (Don’t get me wrong here, they’re like brothers to me and they take care of me as much as brothers will do to their sister.) During the 2 days, we had 2 other girls joining us and both gasped with surprise when they heard that I studied electrical engineering with the 2 guys.

So how did I survive in a male-dominated field? (This will also answer some girls’ questions on how to survive there.)

  1. Be some kind of a hybrid individual: be nice and polite when you’re with girls and be careless when you’re with guys. This will work perfectly, trust me. I’ve been doing this thing for the last 9 years. One thing to remember about this tip is to balance the two – you have to get close to girls as much as to guys, otherwise the girls will start talking about you behind your back. Nobody wants that. Ewh.
  2. Be blunt when speaking. This is the easiest and the hardest part for me. I’ve always been a blunt one since I was in high school (all-girl high school, remember?) that sometimes I forget that I’m surrounded by normal, soft-hearted girls who can’t take blunt words easily. The thing is, guys don’t understand codes and signs girls normally make, so speaking things directly is always the best choice.
  3. Understand guys’ ways of thinking: the key is to be logical most of the time. I know it’s hard for girls to do, even I fail sometimes (specifically during ‘that’ time of the month, doh), but this is the way to get guys to respect you. The easiest way to learn guys’ ways of thinking is by playing games with them – they will become themselves when playing games.
  4. Be ambitious at work. Not to tackle people on your way to success – that’s not ambitious, that’s mean, but to know what you’re actually doing (this also means: never mix up personal and professional matters), where you’re going, and where you want yourself to be next. Pssst.. they will also be very happy and proud if you ask them for career advice. Don’t be too much in this, though..
  5. Keep yourself up to date with politics and economic news. Because those are the topics they will most likely discuss with you during coffee breaks. They like to keep topics about ladies and sports to themselves, but they will discuss about politics and economic with you. Don’t forget office politics as well. 😉 I know it’s hard for you ladies to keep your mouth from talking about everything you know, but it’s better to be able to control your mouth when speaking about others. Guys like gossip, but not too much.
  6. Be able to make decisions without hurting their ego. I often find girls answering “up to you” when guys ask them about where to go or what to do now. Don’t do that so often. To survive male-dominated world, you should be able to make your own decisions, with note of not hurting their ego. They’re still guys, so say your decision and ask their opinion about it. They like to feel superior and let them be, without making ourselves inferior.

Hope this helps. I will continue the list if I have something more in mind. 🙂

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about social animals

Back in my elementary years, in the social studies the teachers (yes, it’s mentioned almost every year) would tell us: human is by nature a social animal. Thus comes the theory that man can’t live alone, that he always needs others in order to live.

As I grew older, I realize that the term “social” is way too gentle to describe one’s relationship with others. I guess that’s why it’s followed by the word “animal” in the first place, to add the wildness to human nature. Politics is the easiest example to that. Not only applicable to the people who run the countries, politics is also applicable to everyone outside of homes (and families, maybe, for those who are really close to their families). Adults have their own needs and in order to achieve their desire, they will do anything, including involving themselves in politics. The war of needs.

I go to work by bus everyday, and there’s always a big chance that I will see the same people everyday, who go from the same shelter, to the same shelter, every single day. I never know their names, or what they do for a living, but I know that we will meet again tomorrow, and the day after, until one of us resigns from what we’re doing at that place. In the bus, even if we don’t know each other, we will compete to get a seat. It’s as if we’re gonna die if we stand and hang in there for too long. Even in the bus there’s politics.

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one of the most tragical moments in the bus: a pregnant woman not getting seats from anyone because ppl just don’t care 😦

Can you imagine if we know each other? Then day by day talks become a friendship.. which leads us to a more peace situation. There will be no war for seats, there’ll only be us excusing each other for those seats. It never goes that way, though.. humans are social animals, which end up not to be so social because we have our own interests.

I’m trying to be the person who’s bringing peace to people around me. I’m not naive, just being nice. Maybe I’m not going to get to know those people from the bus, but at least I’ll give my seats for those who need it more than I do. Hopefully I’ll be successful in my mission. 🙂