It was physics my junior year of high school the first time I can remember being discriminated, although I didn't realize it until a few years later. Our Physics teacher gave us 6 linear feat of Balsa wood for a contest where we were to build a bridge and see whose bridge in the class could hold the most weight. At the time I got this assignment I didn't know I wanted to be an engineer. I was very interested in art and design, the way something looked rather than the structure of it. I really didn’t know how to make this bridge strong, so I did what any kid would do before the Internet was invented. I used my network, my parents and the library. My dad was an electronics engineer trained in the US Navy. He asked some engineers at his company that were in mechanical design for some help, and they sent home a very elaborate drawing with a bridge that had suspensions and two lanes for traffic. Traffic!!, I thought this was a bit overdone. But they taught me about a truss, which is a basic building block of triangles and uses tension and compression where they meet to create strength. So I researched trusses at the library and came up with a simple structure of Pratt trusses that looked like a series of cubes with triangles supporting the sides and the same pattern suspended across the two supports. Execution was a challenge since I had never had modeling kits or used modeling glue. I used crazy glue that my mom had to repair her nails. When I went to class with my simple bridge the teacher laughed at it, 1. it wasn't neat, you know with the dried crazy glue and the pieces of skin attached, and 2. it was quite simple compared to everyone else's. He wrote on the board "girls bridges" and "boys bridges" and underlined it and said we would start testing a few each day. I was really annoyed about separating the boys from the girls, suppose mine was the strongest would it only be the strongest girls bridge? There were hardly any girls in my class anyway. When the testing completed mine was the second strongest bridge in the class, as each weight was placed on the bridge it held steady even as it started to break, it twisted and bent before it fell. The strongest bridge was a boy’s bridge, it didn't matter, I was proud of what I'd done, without the support of the group around me, I made a difference and surprised everyone. For years in college and in the workplace I spend each day with predominantly men, and a few great women, who like me stay because they love engineering. Like the bridge we women are twisting and bending to fit in, but not breaking and often surprising people!
In our history that lies behind us, there is little mention of women, who as mothers and wives shaped and supported our founding fathers but have no names. As women we naturally do for others expecting no credit, this is the culture that we are steeped in and we can only change it by writing our own history.