Last week I had the pleasure to join some of my PD&D comrades at the Design & Manufacturing show in Rosemont, IL. I had the chance to see what’s new in the industry, scout out potential column ideas for PD&D, and work on my pitching skills to help promote our publication.
I learned a lot about the industry and the ins and outs of the business, but I was quite disappointed on how the experience ended.
During the show I was able to walk around on my own and strengthen the skills that my Editor, David Mantey, taught me on my first outing at the Rapid Prototyping show: making eye contact, firm handshake; asking questions on what’s new, how’s the show going, what can be expected – the works.
My confidence was building with each booth that I visited, and I felt more secure with what I discussed as I shook each hand. I was proud of my improvements and felt respected as I walked the showroom floor – that is until a reality-check moment, when I was referred to as “great eye candy” for the PD&D booth.
My initial reaction was to laugh, thinking to myself, “Wow, that’s suppose to be a compliment?” Then I realized it was my way to cover up the extreme urge I felt to reach across and strangle the individual who so bluntly blurted out the comment in an attempt to gain attention.
I was warned several times, about how things would be during some of these shows – but thanks to growing up with a brother who constantly banged on drums – I learned how to tune certain noise out, and direct my concentration towards other things. I never paid attention to the gawking stares or mumbled comments, until my guard was down and one simple comment made me realize the barriers that women still face in this male dominated industry.
The experience got me thinking. At first I was mad and extremely irritated, but then I just became disappointed. The lack of respect women receive in certain areas still boggles my mind.
Now I am not trying to preach for women’s rights or trying to make anyone feel guilty. I am just trying to point out how we’ve come a long way from the caveman era, but some individuals still find it the best way to get a woman’s head to turn, and completely ignore the underlying fact that it’s just plain insulting.
The intelligence that is brought to the industry by some women is sometimes overlooked, which I think can be deadly for certain companies, because the stereotypes that still exist, intimidate certain women from standing out, hindering the company’s potential.
I understand how natural instincts work and the urge to make certain comments – I’m just as guilty – but in a professional environment that deals with the promotion of the “cutting edge,” those old school instincts need to be put in check.
Some women may ignore the comments and smile through their teeth to prevent their rage, others take them with a grain of salt and use the negativity from them to push themselves harder towards success (if I’m told I can’t do something, I work twice as hard just to prove I can). But why? Why do some women still need to roar to demonstrate their knowledge and intelligence in certain areas? Have we not grown out of “males have larger brains than females” theories of our past?
Some will shout “Yes,” while others will pretend not to hear or just flat out ignore the issue. Me, I’ll just take the comments with a grain of salt, keep pushing forward and never be intimidated to express my ideas.
What are your thoughts? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.