Are you the new cook?

Last winter I worked for a ship repair company, and I was the only female employee they had, that wasn't part of the office staff.

It was a combination of field work on the ships, and working in the fabrication/machine/repair shop. 

At first, most of the guys thought that this was my first time working in an industrial establishment, and felt the need to try and explain things to me that I already knew.   Most were very surprised to learn that I am well versed in mechanics, and knew a lot of the terminology.  I have 3 years of auto mechanics from high school under my belt, drove forklift for a while, and have a lot of experience working with and around heavy equipment... for my age anyway.  For example, if we were brainstorming and troubleshooting mechanical issues and trying to solve problems, none of the guys would ever listen to my ideas, let alone ask for them.  In most cases they did know better than I, but in many cases my diagnoses was correct, or my solution was most efficient. 

I really had to go that extra mile to prove myself to them.   Meanwhile there was new a guy name Marty.  Originally an accountant, he was looking for a change of pace, and decided to try his hand at welding.   We both started on the same day, but the existing co-workers had much higher expectations of him, than they did with me.... meanwhile this was in fact his first time being employed in this type of field.    They expected him to know what he was doing, and were hard on him if he didn't, but all treated me in a completely opposite way. 

Eventually I learned to just keep my mouth shut, so I didn't embarrass anyone by proving them wrong verbally, and figured that my workmanship would show everyone that I am capable.  Most of the guys were not ok with the idea that a 20 year old girl knew some of what they did, and the ones who were, thought it was "cool" because they had "never met a girl who liked that stuff".

One day while I was accompanying a few other workers on a installation job on a ship, not one, but two of the crew members asked me, "Are you the new cook?".   I was in coveralls (that had the repair company's logo on it) and a hard hat... not a apron and hair net.   I try not to be prejudice, but where the hell else would they get that idea?
I definitely clenched up a bit, but I laughed it off on the inside none the less.   Calmly I corrected them,  "no, I'm with (company)"
"Oh, that's cool.  What made you want to get into this shit?"

Given my size, and my gender, I figure it's going to be an uphill battle for me when it comes to becoming "One of the guys".   Now, if I could only get an interview with someone......

Uploaded 07/28/2011
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