Vehicle of change

Woman writes candid essay on working as an engineer in auto industry

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Erin Brooks, an engineer for Tesla, writes in a candid essay for Fortune about her experiences working in the male-dominated auto industry. Brooks says these days she’s at ease with her sense of gender and her looks and how they fit into the Tesla work culture — and that of the auto industry at large. But it wasn’t always that way. Some 16 years ago, as a high school student, Brooks started as an intern at Ford. On her first day of work, she writes, she was given a tour of the plant floor, and as she made her way through the space, she was subjected to “the occasional catcall.” Once she began her career in the industry, she writes that she tried to adjust her look and persona so that she would “fit in with the boys” — even though the rational part of her brain knew that her blond hair has no bearing on her performance. Brooks even went so far as to work with a speech coach to deepen her voice. She points to the recent #iLookLikeanEngineer movement as key in helping ease some of the challenges women engineers face in the workplace.

Read the full story at Fortune.

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