I hope you enjoyed the last post about leveling the playing field at the Engineers’ Club. I found a couple of old memories that sum up the times early in my career.
The ads and attitudes of suppliers and sales people hadn’t kept up with the wave of women entering STEM careers in the 1970’s. Affirmative Action policies begun at federal levels in the late 1960’s soon carried over to private corporations. “Quotas” for employing and promoting minorities were driven down to the lowest levels of the company. Opportunity arose for female and other minority college students to head towards degrees that led to typically white male dominated careers, like the STEM areas of study.
I worked with a great bunch of men when I started my engineering career with the Monsanto Company in St. Louis, MO. In the short two years I spent in St. Louis, we traveled together, attended seminars together, and shared many lunches and a few dinners together. Then I took a two-year rotational assignment as a construction engineer for a new plant being built in Fayetteville, NC.
I missed the St. Louis guys and once in awhile a memo or ‘gift’ would arrive through the company mail. This was 1980, still no email or Internet. One envelope I received contained a note stapled to an ad cut out of a trade magazine.
BT, my former lead engineer, with his inquiry about Mrs. CLE, referred to my recent marriage. We marked our construction hard hats with our initials, as they were all the same color. BT knew me as CLO, pronounced like it’s spelt, as we had been on several plant trips, complete with a hardhat as part of our attire. Fortunately, I married a vowel, so CLO became CLE.
Figuring the construction job was full of dirt and grime, BT, and no doubt he had some help from the other guys, sent the following ad:
I laughed and laughed at this ridiculous ad. It made me homesick for sure, does that seem weird? I’ll share my experiences with harassment in a later post and some women might not be amused by this friendly offering. It’s a balance for sure, but if it’s done in friendship and not anger, it’s OK by me. We’ve come a long way; ads change with the market, thankfully.
One more thing to share: I’ve also kept various comic strips I’ve read over the years. This one really drove it home for me, especially after being the object of hoots and hollers at a construction site to being one of the construction engineers. I’ll go on record to state I never hooted and hollered at a man but I have whistled back at a few groups of guys who started it. That was fun! And it shut them up.