Two summers ago I worked as a camp counselor at a science camp where the majority of my coworkers were male. This could potentially be because of the stereotype that science is a male dominated subject in our society, even though women now are becoming involved in science in increasing numbers. I worked with four men, my boss, Justin, and three teenage coworkers, Michael, Hans, and Jesse. There was one other girl, Annika, and we bonded immediately over being in the minority, even though she was six years older than me. Hans, Jesse, Michael, and I were all close in age, so I spent the majority of the time with them. At first it was strange to be one of the only girls, especially since a lot of the campers were also male.
When I first started at the camp, I didn’t know much about the equipment I had to use or the projects the kids had to do. The guys had to show me how to do almost everything, and would sometimes make fun of me, even though it was all in good fun. One interesting thing I noticed was that anytime a kid had a problem, like homesickness, feeling sick, or upset with another kid, they would either come straight to me or Annika, or one of the guys would send them to talk to one of us. Annika and I decided it was probably because we were girls that the guys assumed that we would better know how to deal with emotional problems and help calm the kids down.
Because it was my first year at the camp, I earned almost a dollar less an hour than everybody else. Experience played a role in determining wages at my camp, but gender did not seem to have an impact, as Annika earned as much as Michael, Hans, and Jesse. I faced no discrimination because of my gender, but I defiantly saw differences between Annika and I, as the only female counselors, and Michael, Justin, Jesse, and Hans. Overall, my job at the camp was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about power tools and science, two male-dominated areas of interest.