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Feminism: chat

DD's very early introduction to the world being set up for the men.

53 replies

ellyoctober · 18/10/2021 13:45

DD18 has just started a Civil Engineering course at university.

She's worked so hard to pursue this dream, abd I'm very proud of her but slightly concerned about the male orientated industry she's joining and what she'll encounter there.

Today she's texted me from a lab to say that she's too short to use a piece of equipment adequately and a lab assistant has had to scrat around to find her a stool so she's able to participate fully. She's 5'1".

Hopefully this will raise some awareness in the lab, but I'm not holding out hope for the future.

It's everywhere isn't it?

OP posts:

FaceForRadio1973 · 18/10/2021 15:21

As an engineer, let me firstly say congratulations to your daughter for starting out in engineering. The world needs far more people like that. Even better that she's starting to forge her way through what has been a traditionalally male environment. Hopefully she will change a few mindsets on her way.

I don't think this piece of equipment favours men, it just favours average height people of either sex. I know plenty of short-arse men who struggle, so, like your daughter, adapted and overcame. (They stood on boxes)

When I was younger, I was seven stone in wet clothes. Even that has caused me problems in the past. Since I discovered beer and hit middle age, that's no longer a problem.

I think it's fantastic that there's another engineer on the way, especially a woman, but please don't turn a height issue into one of a gender issue.


Fredoftheforest · 18/10/2021 15:29

Ok on average women are shorter than men, so of course the height of equipment is a gender issue. It’s true there are also short men. It’s also true that there are single fathers out there, but issues of childcare predominantly affect women and so are feminist issues. Height is the same kind of issue.


ItsahardGobbutsomeonehastodoit · 18/10/2021 15:33

it just favours average height people of either sex
What is average height for females and males?


GreyhoundG1rl · 18/10/2021 15:35

To be fair, 5'1" is very short for a woman. Distinctly below average.


Fredoftheforest · 18/10/2021 15:37

Average British man is 5 foot 10. Average British woman is 5 foot 4. Height is definitely a gender issue.


ChateauMargaux · 18/10/2021 15:37

I hope things have moved on in the workplace since I studied Engineering 30 years ago... but I don't get the impression that they have..


CaveMum · 18/10/2021 15:38

ONS says “UK average male height” is 5ft 9 and “UK average female height” is 5ft 3, so if they split the difference make things built around a person of average height 5ft 6 it would STILL be too big for the average woman.

@ellyoctober has your DD read Invisible Women? Might be worth sending her a copy. I’ll bet any lab PPE (goggles, coats, boots, etc) are all too big for her too.


HarebrightCedarmoon · 18/10/2021 15:39

It's hardly unusual for a woman to be 5'1" though. A lot more unusual for a man.


FaceForRadio1973 · 18/10/2021 15:47

Fair enough, I've just had a quick Google, and it would appear that there is about 5" between men and women average height. I apologise, I didn't realise how much it was.

The average male height is 5'9", and 5'4" for women.

I admit that It's easier and safer for a tall person to stoop, then a short one to tip-toe.

Unfortunately, even if the equipment was designed for the average height of 5'4", someone less than that is going to struggle.


Svalberg · 18/10/2021 15:57

The male/female height thing is why I lowered the specified mounted height for a piece of equipment- I knew that a load of short women were going to be working on it at the commissioning stage. Tell your daughter that when she becomes qualified, she'll be able to make a difference to female working conditions.


naughtyfurballs · 18/10/2021 16:05

It's worth her checking if it's safe - I spent a summer using a research rig designed for someone at least 6' tall. I'm 5'4". There were a load of switches along the top which someone taller could reach from the floor, but I had to climb on a stool. Some of them were emergency switches (on a potentially dangerous piece of kit); looking back it was actively unsafe rather than simply inconvenient.

Please get her to give feedback; hopefully it'll help the department make sure all their equipment is accessible in the future.


DespairingHomeowner · 18/10/2021 16:09


Average British man is 5 foot 10. Average British woman is 5 foot 4. Height is definitely a gender issue.

Its more like 5ft 6/7 for todays teens/20 somethings, your DD is on the petite side of average

I do think the world is set up for men, but this is not a particularly egrerious example of it. Wishing your DD the best in her studies

Fearless9286 · 18/10/2021 16:26

I also studied civil engineering and have worked in construction for over 15 years. I have genuinely never faced any different treatment whether on site or in the office. It's a great industry I'd recommend to anyone. I often represent my company at career fairs and the biggest block to more young women considering a construction discipline is usually their parents, particularly their fathers who think that trades on a dirty cold site are the only option. There is such a wide range of career options, from designers and consultants through to specific trades and specialists, as well as support services such as HR, legal, IT, finance, purchasing, procurement....Best of luck to your daughter in her studies


gogohm · 18/10/2021 16:29

Yes and no, women in stem do need to ensure they get equal treatment and yes, wrong height is an issue but my dd is an engineer, branch more male dominated than civil and is top of the class, she got a job to go to next year already, my dd is 5'2


Abitofalark · 18/10/2021 22:35

How can anyone live in this world and not notice the difference in heights between women and men?

Despite that particular problem in the lab, I don't think you should feel so decidedly down about this career for your daughter. Engineering is a wonderful subject and as she has the interest and aptitude for it I am sure she will do very well and enjoy it.

Women can and do thrive working in similar fields even though there are few of them among a crowd of men.


Mum2021askingquestion · 18/10/2021 23:07

Ffs the issue is not that the equipment is aimed at average people and this woman is shorter than average.

A piece of equipment would never just fit someone average sized.

The issue is that the sizing, in a university in 2021, is totally built around men's proportions.

This woman is only 3-4 inches below average woman's height. The equipment will definitely fit someone a few inches either size of an average man. Do you seriously think a man of 6ft 4 would have a problem using it? No. It's going to aimed to work for people between maybe 5ft 4 and 6ft 7. A good range around the average for men. Many women luckily fit into this, but many don't.

There will be very very few men who don't fit this range.

A 3 inch shorter or taller than average man will not find issues with engineering equipment.


LaLaLouella · 18/10/2021 23:11

FFS - an obvious case of the world being designed to favour an average man, making life more difficult for a perfectly normal sized woman and we have multiple posts about how it isn't a problem and your daughter just needs to put up and shut up. I fucking despair sometimes, I really do....


SpookyPumpkinPants · 18/10/2021 23:14


To be fair, 5'1" is very short for a woman. Distinctly below average.

I'm not even 5ft 🤣🤣🤣

'Distinctly below average' thankfully it's only my height, not my intelligence

ANameChangeAgain · 18/10/2021 23:17

Off topic a little, but how is your DD finding it being the only woman on a male dominant course @ellyoctober.
I ask because my 16yo dd is wanting to do a STEM college course next year, and will almost certainly be the only girl on the course. I haven't told her but it worries me.


TeenMinusTests · 19/10/2021 16:07

What worries you about it?
I spent my whole career being massively outnumbered, often the only woman in meetings etc (Electronics / software). I was maybe lucky with the company, but I was always treated well. (and I met DH).

My DD has just started college on a practical course. The overalls come as 'unisex' with one leg length. We had to get 6 inches removed from the leg, and 5 inches from the arms to fit my under 5ft DD.


EdmontinaDonsAutumnalHues · 19/10/2021 16:15


Average British man is 5 foot 10. Average British woman is 5 foot 4. Height is definitely a gender issue.

Height is (if it is) a sex issue.

You can’t identify out of your height because you decide to change your gender identity.

NailsNeedDoing · 19/10/2021 16:25

To be fair, 5’1 is tiny, and it’s likely that someone of that size will have minor struggles in many areas of life, like not being able to reach the ceiling handles on the tube or the top shelf on the supermarket. This is a short person issue, not a feminist one. As long as a step is safely provided for her, there isn’t a problem.


immersivereader · 19/10/2021 16:28

I bet 5'1 isn't 'tiny' for her Hmm

Ageist as well as heightist much

You don't see many men at that height but you do women


GreyhoundG1rl · 19/10/2021 16:34


I bet 5'1 isn't 'tiny' for her Hmm

Ageist as well as heightist much

You don't see many men at that height but you do women

How can it not be tiny for her? Confused.
All people of 5' 1" are 5' 1"... It's objectively tiny.

Oswina · 19/10/2021 16:34

I'm always shocked when I realise how short women are on average. I'm a 5'7 woman and I think of myself as average height, not tall and not short.

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