Member Voices

Where is the line between transparency and self-preservation in your career?

By Andrea Dumont posted 01-03-2019 18:22

  

As young professionals, public transparency is something that comes second nature to us.

I have always had access to any online material I've needed. I've downloaded large GIS datasets and browsed around for the Facebook-official relationship statuses of people I've crushed on. Anyone can go onto my reddit account and see what I've commented on in the past (spoiler: it’s mostly cat videos). I've also been super-open about my life on my social media accounts and blog, from mental health woes to dealing with sexism at work.

Recently, one of my engineer friends (a woman) was asked by a younger male colleague to fulfill an admin role. If you're a woman in the workplace, this story will probably sound familiar and personal to you. We've all experienced it.

My friend tweeted about it, being open with the sexism she experienced and her frustration with it. Unfortunately, she then had to deal with the fallout and negative feedback from her managers. Instead of acknowledging and correcting an issue with corporate culture, they were about implicit bias.

It's been important to my personal values to propagate transparency in the industry. We've seen time and time again that when things are hidden, either by design or by omission, women are hurt. Women who have been silenced in Me Too and in Silicon Valley are saying “no more.” What about in traditional engineering?

Well-behaved women rarely make history. But swing too far in the other direction and you may open yourself up to dissonance at work. Engineering needs change, which requires courageous people who want to speak up. You can't do this if you fear the repercussions for your career.

I encourage each of you to ask your employers to implement digital intelligence (DQ) training, specifically in the context of transparency and privacy. This will help to craft their policies on transparency and provide you with 21st-century training opportunities. And if they say no? Do the millennial thing and give them an anonymous rating on Fairy God Boss and Glassdoor.

What do you think? I'm interested in hearing your stories. When has something happened to you that you felt uncomfortable sharing at the time? What happened and why was it uncomfortable? I also want to hear about how you've disrupted the status quo and inspired change in the right direction. Let me know in the comments!

Andi DuMont is a water engineer for Jacobs Engineering working on large-scale water resources and construction projects across the US. In her free time, she strives to showcase the amazing engineering industry and advocate for young women through her projects and professional workstyle. Follow her on Instagram, www.instagram.com/dumontandi, on Twitter, https://twitter.com/dumontandi, and her blog, The Watermark.

 

1 comment
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08-18-2019 15:59

  • Specifics of the post:

“My friend tweeted about it, being open with the sexism she experienced and her frustration with it.”

The strategy selected easily anticipated blowback and self-defensiveness by those accused. This strategy was more a “Declaration of War,” than an attempt to work collaboratively towards understanding.

 

“Engineering needs change, which requires courageous people who want to speak up.”

To be clear, the men in middle, senior, and executive levels of engineering management have to “Turn on the lights!”

 

“And if they say no? Do the millennial thing and give them an anonymous rating on Fairy God Boss and Glassdoor.”

No, no, no! You, we, us are much smarter than that! Get together with Dr. Lisa Black in the ASCE Diversity Committee and ask Why, What, How and When can you mobilize to stop the insanity.

 Cheers,
Bill