Career Fears and Gender Gaps

SWE Rowdy

I’m a non-traditional student working through the sixth year of my four-year degree in civil engineering. Fifteen months of minimal hiccups and I’ll finally be an engineer. During these six years I’ve had semesters of straight A’s, been president of UTSA’s Society of Women Engineers, co-founded an organization we called Women in STEM, dropped out of classes mid semester, endured 3 surgeries, nursed multiple family members through life threatening illnesses, been awarded Intern of the Year from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, laughed so hard I cried, cried so hard I slept, fallen in love, met lifelong friends and shared memories with people that will forever be strangers.
The women I’ve shared this journey with have a few things in common but, on the whole, are as different as they come. Their families are minorities, majorities, rich, poor, middle class, American, foreign, engineers, teachers, high school dropouts, and PhDs. Some of us studied a few hours a week, some a few hours a day, some spent four years in a classroom without a glimpse of sunshine.  They’re strong, they have goals, they know the taste of failure, and they’re damn sure going to take their place in the career field of their choice.

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We know that women tend to be uncomfortable with salary negotiation, we undervalue our educational accomplishments and our problem-solving abilities, we suffer from imposter-syndrome and we compare ourselves to role models who’ve been in the industry for decades. We know and yet we struggle. We’ve spent years discussing how we’re going to break the molds, smash the glass ceilings, and drag each other up and over the corporate ladders. We approach our real-life careers and we panic.


Many of the women I began this journey with have already graduated. A couple are graduating over the next six months. All have been offered jobs in the career field they desired most. All of them. Every spidey-sense I possess knew these women would blow other applicants out of the water, rock every interview (we prepared for this!), and be offered the opportunities we dreamed of. So, why is it still scary? Why aren’t I as confident in myself as I am in these ladies? Why can’t we view our own accomplishments the same way we view our peers? I know I’m ready for a career. Sometimes though, I just can’t imagine a life where I’m not a student. Where deadlines are less arbitrary. Where the answers aren’t definite and checked by the experts. Where I am the expert.

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We’re told our male counterparts struggle less, on average, with inferiority complexes, fear of negotiation and impostor syndrome. For those of you just breaking into your industry, what are your experiences? Do you feel you entered industry at the level you deserved? Did your gender play a role in what you applied for or where you ended up?


For you all that have been in industry, how do you view gender gaps in technology? What fears did you have at the start? Do you think gender played a role in your entry into industry or advances?


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Posted in New Anxiety in my 30s, Uncategorized, Women, Women in Construction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Content Must Not Suck (And more about NYC)

I keep starting to write and not making it past the title. I’m grateful for this writing outlet but I’m terrified I’ll bore you all to tears! I’m not sure who you all are or why I’m afraid to upset you so, today I’ll keep going.

Thursday I attended the first ever Women in Construction Empower Series put on by Procore. This event was the driving force behind my trip to NYC. (Thank you, Dani!) The conference was beautifully structured, informative (Did you know women make up about 57% of the workforce but only 9% of the construction industry?!) and chock full of truly inspirational women who dedicate their lives to shattering glass ceilings and lifting up other women. Special thanks to Nancy Novak, Uta Pape, Alexis Capozzi, Danielle Edberg, and the many other women who took time to chat with me directly.


Post-conference, Dani and I were able to tour a couple of Cocozza Group’s construction sites in Manhatten. As I was very busy geeking out, I forgot to take even a single picture. Whoops! I’ve messaged my connection there asking for permission to tell you about the sites we toured.



Later that night we ate pizza near Penn station made by this guy who, after a few drinks, looks just like Mario!20171012_223710_1507910298453









Friday evening was full of jazz music at Fat Cat and rolling laughter sponsored by The Comic Strip Live. If you get the chance, The Comic Strip Live is a must! Shout out to Vic Henley (an outstanding comic and all around great guy) for getting us in, and to the delightful staff and bartenders for making it an unforgettable evening.


Saturday, with achy feet and a pounding head, I made my way to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I spent seven and a half hours staring into the eyes of ancient figures. Previous trips full of museums and cathedrals taught me not to photograph everything in sight. Instead, I picked a theme and stuck with it: Ancient Beauty. I also threw in a selfie, just for kicks.

Kelly, a wonderful woman I connected with through the Girls Love Travel Facebook group, was also soloing NYC and suggested a late dinner with some Broadway-style entertainment. Below the pictures from The Met, you’ll find a couple photos from Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Another must see if you’re near Times Square!

What are your favorite NYC experiences? If you’ve made it this far and enjoyed the content, feel free to reach out via e-mail: or comment below.

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Posted in Art, Comedy Club, Glass Ceilings, NYC, Solo Travel, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Travel, Women in Construction | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NYC Surprises

Let’s start with the people. They’ve been kind, helpful and a ton of fun. It started with the ladies at the front desk at The Crowne Plaza in Times Square. I arrived about noon. They’d upgraded me to, and reserved,  a corner suite overlooking Times Square. Unfortunately, the folks currently occupying that room had late checkout (4pm) and I’d been on my way to NYC from Cocoa, Florida since 4 am. I tried to wait it out by wandering the nearby streets but the exhaustion took over and I headed back about 2. The ladies at the desk said the room they were holding was spectacular but they totally understood. We swapped pleasantries, stories of exhaustion and surgical histories. After much deliberation, they found me another corner suite. It was stunning! King size bed, huge TV, and never ending views of skyscrapers and the Hudson River. (I’m also an IHG Spire Elite rewards member.) I unpacked some things, took a quick shower, called my family, and laid down for a nap before The Book of Mormon. If I make it back to Times Square this trip, I’ll take those ladies some chocolate.

I arrived early for the 7 pm showing of The Book of Mormon so I could check out the theater and get comfy in my seat. Shortly after stashing my coat and snapping a couple of pics, a woman walks over and says “you look just like my friend Dawn!” (I must have one of those common faces because this happens a lot!) While we sorted out where we were from and what places we’d both been, a stunning, confident woman takes the seat next to me. It wasn’t long before she’d joined in the conversation. The three of us laughed, giggled, and downright cackled for the full two and a half hours of genius that is The Book of Mormon.

Wednesday morning I rolled out of bed at 5 am to be part of Good Morning America’s outside audience. The Harlem Globetrotters were going to break the Guinness World Record for most half-court shots by a team. Shortly before it actually started (7 ish? ) a group of three women walked up. They were a hoot! We ended up with free Harlem Globetrotters jerseys and headbands, were interviewed by someone inside security (no idea who, still haven’t found the footage) and took loads of photos together. I’ll post one here.

Second surprise was the cleanliness! Having traveled to 25+ countries, I expected a city with this many people to have lots of garbage. As I look out the window of this Starbucks on Park Ave, I see the the first bits of trash  (half a pretzel and an empty Red Bull). The Uber driver last night was surprised at my assessment so, maybe it’s just Times Square that’s immaculate?

Third and final surprise: I’ve felt completely safe. As with any travel destination, I’m cautious and trust my gut. Really though, it’s well lit and everyone has been kind.

What were your biggest travel surprises?! Feel free to comment (Do I have a comment section?) or shoot me an email!



Posted in Art, NYC, Solo Travel, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Engineering My Life: Some days, I’m a Writer.

A few weeks ago I was on the phone with my mother while she cleaned out desk drawers in a trailer where I spent a small chunk of my adolescence.  Those drawers contained beautiful, terrifying, and miserable poetry written by the girl I used to be.  I don’t know that girl. Most days I don’t even remember her, much less give her room to roam my thoughts. She’s not who I’m referring to when I go searching for the fearless girl I used to be. She was not fearless. She was terrified of everything but had good reasons for her fears. At some point, that girl decided to change. She decided to take responsibility for her actions, her feelings, and her destiny. At some point, she became a warrior. She picked up and moved across the country, then across the world, all on her own. She knew life was hers to conquer.

If you’re reading this you probably already know my backstory. You know that I’ve traveled the world. That I packed my bags and moved to Ireland on a whim. That (at some point) I was fearless. You probably think I still am. You know that three months ago, I could barely walk. That eight weeks and five days ago I had surgery on my spine. That five days ago, I was freed from my back brace. That yesterday, I flew to New York City. What you might not know is: It was terrifying.

I’ve flown a hundred times, at least. This time, I wasn’t sure I’d make my flight. Or if I’d make my connection. Or find my bag, a cab, the hotel. As overwhelming as it all felt, each small thing I accomplished felt like a victory. I didn’t drop my phone in the toilet (Score!). I didn’t get mugged heading to the hotel (Score!). No bed bugs (Score!). Found the theater (Score!). Sat between to two incredible ladies from Denver and Oregon. We giggled, cackled and drank our way through a bizarre and enchanting Broadway theater experience. (Super Score!) Each little win is rebuilding my inner warrior.

I feel the words grasping for the things I want to say, do, and be. Itching to be dismantled by rational thought and released in an NYC afternoon rain.  The words are dragging my inner warrior to the front lines of my soul.

So: Today I am a Writer. Today I fight for my warrior.

Keep an eye out for my solo NYC adventures and upcoming trips! Feel free to comment or reach out by e-mail:


Posted in New Anxiety in my 30s, Solo Travel, Travel, Uncategorized | 2 Comments