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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ODU chapter.

Since 2012, the number of women in engineering has not budged. Did you know that only 15% of engineers in the United States are female? While it seems that as a country we are moving on from gender roles, there are still limitations to spaces that women can feel comfortable in. As typical as they may seem, gender biases and stereotypes against women are real and happen every day; whether it’s in the workplace, school, the gym, or in everyday life.

Women can often be underrepresented and overlooked in their academic and professional life. Speaking up in class can be a difficult task for some, especially in a room full of men, and being the only female in a couple of my classes, I experience this all the time. As a mechanical engineering major, the number of women is very limited, and it is so important to join organizations and make friends for support and to boost confidence. Organizations such as Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), and Women in Engineering (WIE) all exist to promote and inspire women to join and enjoy their experiences in engineering and further their career. More and more women have been entering engineering fields due to these support systems in place and being inspired by other women in the news. 

For years, the government has been overcompensating to attract more women to the field by promoting women’s interests. The military is a completely different beast when it comes to gender roles. It is perceived as a “boys club,” and has extreme biases and stereotypes; men are stronger, men are smarter, they can handle more emotionally and physically than women. Approximately 93% of women say they fear reporting non-inclusive behaviors at work since it will have a negative affect on their career. Vanessa Giullen is a well-known name in the community–she was an Army soldier killed by her fellow soldier. She had reported the sexual harassment TWICE before being murdered by him at the young age of 20. While the advances for women in the military are progressing in terms of inclusivity, they are lacking in protection and justice. 

Crossing gender lines isn’t easy – there is an unspoken feeling that women should be on cardio machines and men should be on weights.  It is widely known that the gym is one of the most intimidating places for a woman. I have been weightlifting for around two years now, and I have complete confidence, but I didn’t start out like that. It’s often frowned upon for women to have big muscles and structured features, and there is the stereotype that women should be lean and skinny. Undereating and cardio have been a staple for women, and social media influencers, Tiktok specifically, are breaking boundaries for gym girls and teaching them that it is okay to start something new and be nervous. “What I eat in a day”, get ready with me videos, what they’re wearing to the gym, or videos on how and what to do in the gym are increasing in popularity and helping women with their confidence. 

While women continue to push the boundaries, it will be some time before we are perceived as equal; we have a lack of respect and have to work much harder to be accepted. We need to stick together and support each other in all aspects. Learning to stand up for yourself in your personal and professional life can set boundaries and look out for your well being. Making history at school, in government positions, military positions, sports and other areas are minimizing the idea of masculine spaces and inspiring young women to expand their horizons.

Hi! My name is Kayla, and I am Mechanical Engineering Technology major, with a minor in engineering management. I am the Wellness Editor of our chapter here at ODU!