So far this summer I’ve found quite a few individuals that I look up to within Nova Environmental. All of the full time employees are incredibly helpful, and make themselves very approachable and accessible. It’s so refreshing. Sometimes I feel that working adults seem closed off, like they don’t have time for me or my questions, so I truly appreciate the way Nova employees work with their younger interns.
I especially feel that I connect most with two of my supervisors, Lisa and Meghan. I’ve been in contact with them the most all summer out of my four total bosses, which was just pure luck. They happened to be the project designers of the projects that I lead over the summer, so I was often involved in phone calls and walk-throughs with them. Sure they’re great leaders and amazing at their jobs, but what I loved most is how tough they are as women. In a field like construction work, women are rarely found, as the division is mainly comprised of men.
From day one of training, Meghan and Lisa warned me that as a young woman in the business, I would definitely receive tons of attention, good and bad. I always thought of myself as a sassy woman who can stand her ground, but I wasn’t really prepared for that type of workplace harassment, but my experiences have made me more aware of the identities that I possess that I may not be entirely in-tune with.
I would say that nearly every day, I receive some sort of sexist comment at work. It’s actually sickening that I’m able to speak so calmly about this, that it’s so casual and common. I’ve actually kept a log all summer, recording the date, context, where, and who said each thing that I deemed offensive. Some include: “Wow, that’s a pretty strong handshake for a woman.” and “You should park closer, you know, being a woman and all.”
These statements, seemingly suitable for conversation by the speaker, were all attacks on one thing; my identity as a woman.
I would say that I’m a pretty calm and collected person, but this really outrages me. I think I’m really starting to understand, for example, what it may be like to be a marginalized student on campus who may experience similar situations that chip away at their self confidence, beliefs, and identity. I’m learning to recognize what small and hurtful comments can do to a person. First you feel rage, then you may think it’s funny. Funny that someone actually thought it was an okay thing to say to your face. Then, you get angry all over again, and either vent to a friend or internalize it. I’m still figuring out how to manage my feelings about my experiences, but I do feel that I am mentally strong enough to not let those useless men get to me.
The first time a man at work said something offensive to me, I called Lisa. I wasn’t sure what to do, but I knew it shouldn’t go unnoticed. This is the moment I knew I admired Lisa. She asked me to hand the phone to the man who fired upon my identity, and by the look in his eyes, I could tell he would never say anything as crude as that to me or anyone else again. I like that Lisa and Meghan look out for me, and respect me. They often text me to make sure I contact them if I need anything.
I feel so lucky that I’m working for a company that values me as an intern, and as a person, and I know for a fact that I will leave this internship in a few weeks with a stronger grasp on my career goals and a stronger understanding of myself and my capabilities as a student, a young employee, and as a woman.