I work as a project assistant for a company that builds, designs, and upgrades cell phone towers (I don’t know why everyone was so surprised when the towers went out in NOLA. Towers in Indiana are only enginneered to withstand 70 MPH winds. Every time a hurricane goes through Florida, we wait for a repair contract to come through. A couple guys from our office are down in NOLA right now fixing towers whose equipment shelters were under 20 ft of water. Radio equipment, in general, usually doesn’t work under 20 ft of water).
In any case, what this means is that I hang out with a lot of architects and construction and site acquisition types, and they’re overwhelmingly male. I’m used to being the only woman at meetings, and I’ve had several of the older guys ask me to get them coffee at some of the bigger national meetings, which left me with my mouth hanging agape (I told them I wasn’t out of this office and had no idea where the coffee was. Having a vagina doesn’t mean I know where the coffee is, let alone mean I’m gonna get it for them).
We have about 34 people in our office. Six of them are women. Me (the project assistant), Cyllia the secretary, the sole accountant (the other one just got fired for the second and final time), the HR/office manager, one of the architects, and Sarah the construction manager (she is very cool).
Not only do I have an androgynous name, but I’m in a field that’s mostly guys, so whenever I start corresponding with a new vendor or client contact, I invariably get “thank you, sir,” or “Thanks, Mr Hurley,” responses. And the gender marker titles always come from guys (or, people who have guy-like names).
It amuses me, so I never “set them straight.” It’s worth it for the look of surprise on their faces when they finally meet me, or the odd moment of startled silence when I introduce myself over the phone.