“From Stilettos to Steel Toes”

A couple of weeks ago I attended SWE’s (Society of Women Engineers) first GBM. They introduced an essay contest titled “Stilettos to Steel Toes” and encouraged all of us to participate. A woman recruiter from a company called Schlumberger spoke to us. Check out the link below.


The purpose of this essay contest is for females to justify their bold choice to pursue a nontraditional career in engineering. As I listened to the presentation and looked at the brochure and T-shirt that they had given me, I was immediately reminded of this class and felt that all of this was very wrong. The title and the logo hit me the hardest. “From Stilettos to Steel Toes?” First, this implies that women wear stilettos and men wear muddy work boots that leave footprints with every step they take. Second, this implies that men have toes made of steel. Third, this implies that by pursuing engineering, I can no longer wear stilettos and am now a man. Fourth, this implies that men are superior to women. Fifth, this implies that women pursuing engineering degrees who turn in their stilettos are superior to other women who wear stilettos. I have never considered myself any less of a girl by majoring in engineering, and this meeting made me upset. I chose this field because I honestly enjoy it. Can we leave it at that? I feel that every individual creates his or her own path, and we shouldn’t expect people to behave in a certain way according to our expectations of that person’s gender or the path that person chooses to take.

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One Response to “From Stilettos to Steel Toes”

  1. ctr0605 says:

    Chelsea, Thanks for sharing this. When people ask me what my major is, and I tell them Gender Studies I always get this weird look (the infamous head tilt, and lips pressed). Then I get the question ” Well, what for ?” Your experience is the perfect response to this: gender is everywhere, and it’s influences almost everything. Society is immune to the messages it sends people especially women. I think if you told women your story and asked them if they agreed with your points, mostly all would say “yes.” And yet, this seminar happens. I applaud your career path, and when you land your first job, wear steel toed stilettos!!!

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