Some of the women who influenced me to become an engineer were not engineers themselves. Instead these women taught me about strength, and to not allow normal gender assignments determine the career I chose. One such woman was Mrs. Sherry. I first knew Mrs. Sherry as a wife and mother. She was the wife of a petroleum engineer, and was a lawyer herself. She had received her law degree in a time when few women even thought of pursuing law as a career. Even though I knew getting a law degree had not been easy for her, Mrs Sherry was still a funny, and outgoing woman. She had a self-confidence about her that drew me to her. And she spoke to me in a way that other grown women did not. Like I was not just a child, but I was a friend. To this day, I still as know I can call her up and meet for lunch. But her schedule is very full.
Mrs. Sherry’s husband’s career took off around the time I met her, and her husband is now a Senior Vice President and Principal Financial Officer at the largest publicly traded international oil and gas company. So eventually she put her lawyer career to the side, and supported her husband so he could follow wherever his career led them. Most of the world is impressed by her husband’s achievements, but I am more impressed by Mrs. Sherry. While her husband was attending late night meetings and rushing off to international agreements, she was back at home keeping everything in line. She managed the financials of the family, called the bug guy, maintained their home, and raised their son, basically, on her own. I never heard her complain about how much her husband was away from home, and I never heard her complain that she was raising her child on her own. No. She was proud of her husband, and he knew it. As the saying goes, “Behind every successful man, there is a strong, wise, and hardworking woman”. This couldn’t be more true about Mrs. Sherry. While I watched other marriages fall apart because of career demands, Mrs. Sherry took care of her family and supported her husband. She led her family with strength, and never let the demands of married single motherhood drag her down. Her example gave me the strength to support my husband when his job required him to be away for a third of the year. Her example gave me the strength to manage our home and my career while he was away. Her example also showed me it was ok to say I was overwhelmed, and it was ok to admit I needed to focus on one thing.
Meet the other women who taught me I could be an engineer!