A couple of weeks ago I went to study at the library with some of my [guy] engineering friends for a test the following day. As we were “studying” (notice I put it in quotations because half the time we were talking about the professor’s teaching methods and also making jokes), one of my [guy] friend’s asked me, “So what’s it like being the only girl in engineering?” I paused. I knew what engineering was like, but it hadn’t really dawned on me that I was one of the five (or so) girls in engineering at Arkansas State. I didn’t really know how to answer the question, so I just laughed.
When I left the library, I thought about his question that he asked me. You don’t normally see a lot of girls that are into STEM (Science, Technology, Education, Mathematics). But here I am, an engineering major. Why is that?
I definitely did not start out at as engineering major, I can tell you that! I was an Exercise Science and Physical-Therapy major, wanting to be a Physical Therapist. My first year of college, I attended Harding University, a private Christian college, but I then transferred to Arkansas State, and this is my home. I am a RedWolf, and I am proud!
My first semester at Arkansas State, I was still an ES and PT major. My brother attended Arkansas State so I got to talk to him a lot about the classes and the buildings and pretty much everything else. He helped me out a bunch (woo, go brothers!).
I first chose ES because I love to learn about the body – bones, nerves, structures of the brain, etc. I wanted to be a physical therapist because while I was in high school, I injured just about everything possible (some things more than once), but it wasn’t until my junior year that I really got hurt and had to watch myself closely.
I asked my brother what classes I should take, and he told me to take an Introduction to PTA class, and so I did. I took the class, and by the end of the class, I did not want to be a physical therapist. Nope, no way. Not for Amy. But I still wanted to be an ES major. So then I set my mind on being a Personal Trainer, but that definitely did not last long. I mean, I have to make a living and make the dough, am I right???
I came home for Christmas Break, talked to my parents, and within one night, I was now a Civil Engineering major, with thanks to my brother. My first thoughts were, “Isn’t that hard?” “Can I do that?” “I’m not that smart!”
Classes started back in the spring, and here I was walking into an engineering class. My first engineering class was Concepts of Engineering, and guess what each student had to do on the first day of class? Oh, you know, the oh-so-lovely “state your name, your year, major, where you’re from, what you like to do, etc.” I walked to the front of the class… “I’m Amy. I’m a transfer student from Harding. I’m a Civil Engineering major, I’m from Kennett. I’m a sophomore, and I love sports and hiking.” My Concepts professor looks at me. “I’ve never seen you before, and you’re a sophomore?” I answer, “Yes. I was an ES major.” The whole class roars. Greaaaaattttt.
It’s been a whole year since I walked into my Concepts class, and it’s been a whole year that I have officially been an engineering major. I hate it, but I love it more than I hate it. Engineering isn’t easy, but engineering isn’t impossible. I haven’t regretted my decision once, but there have definitely been (A LOT) of lows and highs during this time (like wasting 50 staples on a lab report and then finally just using a paperclip, as seen below, OR like making a 98% on a 26-page lab report). There’s a ton of homework involved, and it is very stressful to get all of it done, but I am doing it, and I like what I’m doing.
As I walk into my engineering classes now, I notice that I am the only girl (or one of two) in my classes, and I guess I have gotten used to it. My only thoughts about why there aren’t any other girls (or close to the numbers of guys) in engineering would be that girls don’t think they can do it, but girls are most definitely up to the challenge. You just have to push yourself (and push yourself a lot).
It might be a little weird to sit in all your classes with 30 other guys and hear the professor say, “don’t tell your girlfriend that…” and then look directly at you and say, “…or, boyfriend.” (ha, ha, nice one), but it’s worth it. It will be.
I like to think that God wanted me to be in engineering. I have a strong feeling that I am meant to be at Arkansas State University as a Civil Engineering major. I have gotten to know so many of the guys in my classes, and it’s great. I love my school (I definitely wouldn’t have said that my freshman year, but now I am saying it), and I love my major.
Engineering is pretty awesome, but then it also isn’t pretty nor awesome. You just have to give it a chance.So back to the original question: what is it like being a girl in engineering? Well, it’s definitely a lot of things, but at the end of the day, it’s always fun.
Your Civil girl