Regarding engineering, I have faced sexism constantly, from choosing my major to my internship. One male engineer once asked me: “Why did you choose this profession as a girl?”
As women who are imprisoned in the home, whose right to education has been usurped, whose ability to question is taken away, isolated from professional life, and used as cheap labor force; we are systematically exposed to physical or psychological violence. Yet, we are fighting to change the world order we live in as female university students in our women’s movement. Each of us is grabbing life from somewhere; our problems are common, and our struggle is common.
When I talked to my friends about all these issues, we came to the conclusion that somehow we were all victims somehow. I want to make the subject a little subjective and give an example from my faculty. I am studying at the Faculty of Civil Engineering, which is dominantly male.
I have faced discriminatory approaches even when choosing my school and department. There is a perception that “engineering is a male profession.” These problems, which my female classmates and I share, showed us that we have more fights to carry in our education and professional life.
An incident I encountered during my summer internship exemplifies our experiences. At the end of my second year, during my summer internship, with the excitement of learning my profession, I was constantly asking questions to the engineers at work and trying to learn. One male engineer once asked me: “Why did you choose this profession as a girl?” For that person, the first obstacle to my profession was my gender. My male colleague’s sexism and the mobbing I was exposed to was only the trailer of what will I face in my future professional life.
I have a lot of female friends who have been subjected to sexism in their university and professional life. We get together to do reading activities and learn how to fight for our rights. We each draw strength from each other. As women in university, we continue our struggle in all fields and spaces to achieve a just and livable life. From factories to university benches, from lecterns to the streets of Iran, we continue to grow freedom fire within us.
On the other hand, as female university students, we are paying the heavy price of the economic crisis in our country. The scholarship we received does not meet our basic needs. Books, transportation, and food expenses work like a stopwatch, and we wake up every day with a new hike. The outcome is tragicomic when we try to pay our costs with the scholarship we received. Our friends who couldn’t get scholarships get student credits. We are sitting on the university benches, which we started with excitement and enthusiasm, with thousands of lira debt on our shoulders. Many of our friends drop out of school due to socio-economic reasons, and our sisters, who return to their family home, face pressure from their families. We work to study, and we study to work. We cannot eat well. We live in comfortless dormitories and cannot afford our basic needs. While we are struggling with the economic crisis, we are also struggling to survive in the patriarchal society. Moreover, every day we lose one of our sisters to harassment and rape.
As women in university, we are trying to create a livable world order for all our female friends while building the future, and our unity is our greatest hope.