Posted on April 12, 2016 by Zoe Yun Zou
A Woman? An Engineer?
People often ask one question, “who are you?” Well, my name is Danyu. I an international student from China. I am a woman engineer. Honestly, I am not sure. Sometimes, I don’t know if I am a woman first or an engineer first. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what do I really want. I just do not know.
One thing I do know is that it is not easy to be a woman engineer. I could still remember the first day of my internship at a robotics research center. My boss came to me directly after work, “Danyu, maybe you can wear something casual tomorrow? That little black dress is lovely but may not be convenient.” She is right. To be a woman engineer, you need to know how to be a man first. You cannot wear high heels to a machine shop. You need to forgot that you are a girl. It is just not convenient.
I love being an engineer, the excitement of solving problems and the sense of satisfaction when projects are done. But I do hate becoming sloppy after staying up for days in the lab. That space full of pizzas, chips, takeout and soda makes me scared. I am a woman, a lady. Why cannot I dress up nicely everyday and work in a place where I can have a cup of latte in ceramic cup instead of soda?
When I was little, my Dad wished me to become his little princess. I had a collection of perfume that he bought for me as birthday presents in my room. My favorite one is Chance Eau Fraice from Chanel. It has the fresh, soft and feminine fragrance. I kept all the bottles even when the perfume inside is replenished. They remind me of something I may have lost.
I love perfume, high heels, dresses, beautiful lip colors and jewelry just as every girl do. But I do love coding, testing robotics and constructing circular boards. I don’t know how to choose between the two lifestyles.
But why cannot I be both? Maybe I can be an engineer for workday and an elegant lady for the weekend? Maybe I do not need to care what other people say? Maybe I can stronger so no one can stop me from wearing dresses to the lab?
Maybe I am a woman and I am an engineer. Maybe I just need to be stronger. Maybe I just have to accept who I am.
Photography and Text by Zoe Yun Zou, Copyright 2016
About The Author: Zoe Yun Zou, is a Junior enrolled the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2017.