Back in the days when men were men?


Ah, LOTR…Totally Irrelevant Photo =)

I was told by my work that I am only allowed to write about my personal life, not about work per se.  I am not totally sure what that means, but I am hoping they are just referring to “talking about the actual things we are doing” and not “talking about anything remotely to do with work/having a job/how I feel”.  It is a strange feeling, being beholden to a company or organisation which you depend on for money…I know that is really what “working” is all about, but I had never really taken it that seriously before (for all my sense of responsibility, having someone tell me what I can and can’t do has never been a strong point, just ask my parents =P).

Suffice it to say I work for a large oil services company and so my job is based on the oil and gas rigs, truly male dominated territory.

What is interesting about this though, is how different working in a male dominated field is from studying in one.  I had never even given the issue much thought at all, considering since from about grade 10 I had taken traditionally male subjects and studied mechanical engineering (with less than 10 girls in a class of a couple of hundred).  I honestly thought it wouldn’t even be an issue, I would be ‘all over it’.

Perhaps that was my naivety.

What is the difference? When studying, you grew up with your mates, saw them as colleagues, friends, community, family.  Gender seemed not to be an issue, because the guys saw you as just another student or friend.

Out here in the oil and gas fields, those rules don’t apply anymore.

I won’t say that it is an absolute either way – some people will treat women with kids gloves and try to do anything for them, while others will disregard us and think that we shouldn’t be on the rigs or simply incapable of doing the job as well as a man (not even jokingly…they actually think we can’t do a job because of our chromosomes)…but the fact is that our gender matters, and is a defining part of how we are seen and dealt with.

For someone who has spent the last seven or eight years trying to not make that an issue, that is galling indeed.

An interesting experience though nonetheless, and one that I am embracing.

…and hey, as the fellas say as they chew and spit their dip, “Welcome to the Oil Fields!”