I’ve said it once but I’ll say it again. It’s not easy working in a male dominated industry and if you do chose to work in such a place then you need to learn to roll with the punches and to not show any sort of emotion which may be misinterpreted as crazy.
To put it simply – never cry in front of any males at work unless you are in great physical pain and show as little negative emotion as possible.
Of course you do get to work with people who treat you with respect, regardless of your position or your gender for that matter but occasionally you will cross paths with men who believe women have no business working alongside men in this type of industry and today I was introduced to such a person.
Due to the area that I work in we do get our fair share of sales reps who like to drop by for a friendly visit so they can drum up extra business for their company and I immediately feel sorry for any company representatives who come on site to try to corner the Engineer for such a chat.
Unofficially the Engineer is on most counts unavailable, especially so to certain sales reps, but officially he will deny he ever said such a thing. Unfortunately a couple of sales reps were admitted on site late this afternoon and they happened to escape my attention until they were outside the office door. The Engineer however took it upon himself to be busy elsewhere right at that moment which forced me to be gracious and to wave them in.
As they entered I politely introduced myself and they did the same in return however I noticed one of the rep’s (sales rep #2) was a little disinterested in meeting me so I interacted with the other guy (sales rep #1) who was newly employed with this business. This continued on for a good ten minutes – one sales rep ignoring me whilst the other one asked me questions in regards to people’s jot titles etc – until I mentioned a particular product of theirs which we had trialed that had failed to meet our expectations.
All of sudden I had the sales rep #2 asking me all sorts of questions about the environment the product had been used in, the reason that I thought it had failed, how long it was in before it failed etc but I couldn’t answer his questions because it hadn’t been my decision to remove the product from use and when it had been removed, I wasn‘t informed until much later on. Since he was so interested in this information I referred him onto one of the shop’s leading hands and once more he became disinterested in me.
Not long after that conversation the sales rep #1 asked if it was possible to meet the workshop supervisor to discuss some products that might interest our business. I of course indulged his request and lead him out into the workshop and sales rep #2 tagged behind us.
It was during this stroll through the shop that the sales rep #2 pointed toward one of the employees workspace and asked what job he was working on. I casually looked in the direction he referred to noting almost immediately that there wasn’t just one job there but three and stated aloud as such. Sales rep #2 immediately took this opportunity to ask whether one of those jobs was for him to change a coupling and so I again looked at the workspace but couldn’t understand what he was talking about – as none of the jobs on the table had anything to do with couplings – and simply stated as such before I left them in the workshop supervisor’s capable hands.
It wasn’t until much later after both reps had left the site that I started to wonder why sales rep #2 had asked whether one of those jobs involved a coupling when you could see just by looking at the workspace that no couplings were required and since his business was involved in selling us these parts it was doubly curious for him not to know this.
The sales rep’s questions niggled at me the rest of the day, over and over again, when suddenly it hit me that he wasn’t as naive as I had first had thought he had been but he had in fact been testing me to see if I actually knew what a coupling was. This immediately bothered me because if I had have been a male meeting this rep for the first time it would have been assumed that because of my gender I would just know this sort of stuff but as a female I obviously needed to be put to the test first.
Females working in male dominated roles, do they need to prove themselves more than their male counterparts?