By Hadleigh B., UW-Madison Student Intern

The first day I joined Vogel Bros. Building Co., I was introduced to all the project managers. I thought to myself how difficult it was going to be to remember the names of my new coworkers because they were all male names. Then, when I got onto a jobsite, I was introduced to the craft workers and realized there was even more names…and they were all male. Entering an industry that is mainly men was going to be an adjustment. But as it turns out, it’s an adjustment for them too.

As a woman accepted into the School of Engineering at UW Madison, I expected the program to be predominantly male. Sitting in classes and looking around, I saw that most of my classmates are men. This gave me a glimpse of what to expect in the field. But that first day when I was walking the job with my mentors and eager to learn, I wasn’t expecting the craft workers to be so surprised to see a woman. Even in meetings, when my mentors introduced me to the group; I still can see the look of shock on their faces.

I don’t take that look of disbelief negatively. They aren’t used to it. One day I will be a project manager with a degree from UW-Madison, and I’m sure I’ll receive plenty more shocked faces. My hope is that the shock will be quickly replaced with praise and encouragement. I hope that other women see me and other females entering male-dominated industries, and become inspired rather than intimidated. Stepping into an office or on a jobsite mainly populated by men, could be a deterrent to some. But being a minority in this industry only pushes me to strive to be the best I can be. Soon I hope those looks of shock are not because I’m a woman, but because of what I’ve accomplished in my career and the strides I’ve made.