Don't do it girls. Just don't. Avoid geekery and find something else to do. It's too frustrating, climbing over walls that aren't there for the boys, over and over and over.
In my work, I have both general and specific skills, and both general and specific duties and responsibilities. Any more, the general stuff -- working as one of a half-dozen electronics techs at a communications facility -- makes up the bulk of my work. Connect this, install that, unsnarl some bit of legacy improvising, work out and build interface gadgets, respond to user problems (often under considerable time pressure), assist managers in long-range planning -- that's most of what I do. It's the basic skill set of my line of work. But on top of that, I have considerable experience and training in the installation, maintenance and operation of high-power radiofrequency equipment, including cooling requirements. I've been doing that for nearly forty years.
It doesn't make any difference in terms of trust. Time and again, I diagnose a problem and propose a solution, only to have to explain and justify the entirely predictable and understandable behavior of that specialized equipment at great length, unless I can get a man to tell management exactly the same diagnosis and propose the same solution, at which point it is accepted without question.
The impression I get -- from several different managers over the years -- is that at some barely-conscious level, they just can't convince themselves that some woman could possibly know what I know. And yet many of them have resented my attempting to explain in detail so they can follow the observed symptoms and my reasoning as to the cause and remedy. There's no way around it. When I can, I'll use factory support engineers or consultants as cut-outs to short-circuit the cycle of skepticism and cautious explanation, which wastes time and effort. It works.
But I reach a point where it's all I can do to keep myself from saying, "I told you so, I've been telling you so and how I can fix it, but you won't believe me," clearing out my desk and going home. Who needs it?
Edited To Add: Things went better than I had expected. I was able to explain the particular problem that I was concerned about with sufficient clarity that my bosses were confident about the nature of it and my proposed remedy. The new guys are not the old guys -- there's still the problem of always having to prove myself in a way the boys do not, but it helps considerably to be working for people who are not impervious to reason.
6 months ago