There aren’t too many girls in Industrial Engineering. But as it turned out in one class, they preferred men anyway. We were split up into groups of around 25 to get a hands-on notion of the common techniques like a lathe. During our first class – we were 20 odd boys and 4 girls – the assistant had to split us up per two. He had the ungrateful job of informing us that the rules of the lab were “that no girl was allowed to work the machines by herself”, and thus had to be paired up with a boy – the rest could pick their own partners. We could do the numbercrunching, but the actual settings on the machine had to be done by the boy and only by him – NO TOUCHING! I did get up and challenged him, wether he seriously meant to tell us we girls weren’t capable of handling machines. But it wasn’t his fault and all he could do was shrug and look apologetic.
So off we went, I did the numbers and passed them on to my partner. Since this meant I was without work most of the time, I never noticed my male partner had set up the machine wrong, with the blunt side of the chisel on the metal… So he turned it on, the chisel exploded because of the friction, pieces of metal flying around (nobody got hurt thank god) but that made the professor rush towards the emergency stop, frantically looking about, yelling “Ofcourse it’s a girl!”, and when all had gone quiet again, he insisted on calling us together to prove his theory that women weren’t allowed near dangerous machinery. No matter how I protested, again I had to suffer his sexist attitude.
A month later we had done some welding. And lo and behold, girls were this time allowed to work on their own. I remember when we had to present our welded piece to be graded, he was elated when he picked up my piece, the perfect weld… Until he called forward whoever was the creator of such perfection. When he realised it had sprouted from female hands, he waved me back, and retreated into his office without another word.
And to add insult to injury, end of the year I discovered that my male partner had received double my grade…
Story signed by: Aviendha
The story happened to me as a Bachelor student in the year 2005-2009 at an academic institution in Flanders