Now for a more detailed set of my grievances after my cross country vendor visit. The focus on alcohol as a part of the trip nearly overshadows all other considerations. Restaurants are chosen based on the liquor they serve, and hotels are preferred as to whether they are in walking distance of bars or breweries. I am not a big drinker (and generally prefer my diet coke) so this is always difficult. Telling people you are not a big drinker gets you nowhere. Abstaining from drinking garners too much unwanted attention (does she look pregnant? is she a Mormon?) so I have to get through some beer that I'm not really interested in.
But beyond all this, travelling as a woman in a male dominated industry is difficult. Even the Monday-Friday business flying crowd is mostly male. Here are some of the highlights (or lowlights).
- Recently married male engineer invites a lot of talk about how women beat their husbands and are generally no-fun types of hags, all jokes of course
- There are no women to engage in similar sexist conversations with though you're not sure why you'd bother anyways.
- When you're being taken on a "tour" of the facility you must be ready to run to the front of the group as everyone will stop to let the "lady" through the door. Arguing about it will just draw unnecessary attention or waste more time than you already spent jogging to the front of the pack.
- When men and women's bathrooms are not next to each other, you have to loudly ask where the ladies restroom is since you have no examples to follow to get there.
- If you are drinking beer at a table with a bunch of people drinking wine the server will mistakenly think the dude with the mustache next to you is actually the beer drinker.
- Every time you check into a hotel you have to deal with that awkward moment where the person at the counter tries to figure out if you are "with" your coworker.
- People's overconcern for you carrying things will lead to them carrying your luggage around for you even when you'd rather be carrying it yourself.
- Guys you meet are more likely to start trying to have conversations with you about their kids rather than about the project.
- Dare not to drink and everyone will look at your abdomen and wonder if you pregnant.
- People will assume you are junior, or possibly not an engineer.
- They will introduce you to the TokenFemale who works at their company, assuming you will all get along with your girl stuff problems and all.
- Any desire to go home sooner or actually enjoy spending time with your spouse will be seen as female emotional weakness and you will be criticized for it.
On the other hand, I enjoyed both a body scan and a pat down, and the latter wasn't half as bad as I was afraid it would be. Another woman of course did the patting down and it wasn't very invasive (I could have easily hidden some > 3 oz liquids in my bra had I wanted). So not everyone's security story is a terrible one. I'm not saying it was effective, just that as a person who doesn't have any traumatic experiences with that sort of thing it wasn't that bad. The woman looked someone sympathetic that I had to endure it, and kept checking with me whether I had any pain or any place particular uncomfortable for me. So maybe a ridiculous policy, but the TSA employees handled it well in this case.