Feminism has been a hot topic of late and especially since Donald Trump has taken office as the new president of the United States; for obvious reasons. Feminism and standing up for equality across the sexes was never an issue I paid much attention to until after I started my professional life. It might sound self centered, but sometimes it takes personal impact for us to pay attention to issues of importance that affect other persons everyday.
I studied Surveying and Geographic Information Science (GIS) at University. Going in I was (and still am) interested in pursuing a career in Geographic Information Science. The program did not unfold as I expected it to and it turned out to be mostly focused on Surveying. GIS is a relatively small industry in Jamaica and upon completion of my studies I found myself being ushered into the Land Surveying profession out of a share need for a job rather than a desire to pursue it.
Being my usual self I have been working hard and holding my own. Yet, I find that quite often I have been underestimated by both colleagues and clients alike. I can recall the countless times I have been asked “Are you really a surveyor”?, followed by “You look too dainty for that”, “Do you go into bushes?” “Can you manage the hills?”
Those questions are truly annoying and goes to show how incompetent society has made women out to be, but still worse than those questions is the assumption that my male colleague is always the surveyor and I am…I don’t know just a side piece?…an assistant?…anything…just not the person who can use the equipment and go into bushes and be in charge. Not to mention the double checking of my advice against that of a male counterpart.
To these questions my answer is YES, YES, YES! I can do it. In addition to being technical surveying is also labour intensive profession and I might be small but it doesn’t take a big belly and arms like Popeye to lift a tripod. It might not be the career that I ultimately want to pursue but I can do it and have been doing it for years successfully.
I don’t blame these people, I blame a society that has taught them that women are dependent and helpless and cannot fill certain rolls. I am not bitter, I am in fact happy for these experiences because through them I have emerged a feminist who is willing to stand up for women.
We do not only need equal pay, access to education etc. we need to be seen and treated as intellectual equals to men.