The engineering firm that I worked at is a mostly all male environment. In electrical engineering, it just is like that. Nothing new.In my first week I attended a meeting with one of the consulting technologists at the firm. The meeting included two other contractors. As I am only a student, I was obviously only there to observe and obtain some experience. If asked a question, then I would respond, but otherwise I would listen to the conversation and observe the contractual business.

One of the contractors started chirping me under his breath because I was so quiet. I shrugged it off as a joke. Nothing bad. But when we walked outside, he was making remarks about my open shoes to the consulting technologist. Something about ‘she should learn to put on proper safety shoes when going out to site’. To the site which is currently a rugby field with well-maintained grass. To the site, THAT HASN’T EVEN STARTED BEING A CONSTRUCTION SITE. He was posing these remarks not to me, who was standing next to him, but to the consulting technologist who would be my supervisor for that interim.

I ignored it. It’s not that bad.

When it was time to say goodbye, I was civil. I put forward my hand for him to shake and he held my hand, squeezing it tight so that it hurts.