In the past, I was often the only woman at a meeting at the architect’s office or in the construction trailer. I developed affordable housing and the field was dominated by men. I got pretty used to being the only woman and often the one in charge.
When I first started working with any group of all men, I could tell that there would be a couple who felt a little uncomfortable, especially in the construction trailer. Usually over time, we came to trust each other and the fact that we would each do our part and the issue of gender gradually faded away. There were times that it was more difficult and involved snakes see swagger at work.
I now live in rural New Mexico. For the last three years, I have been on a quest to “get water.” My land came with water rights, which is great. But the process of actually exercising those rights has proved daunting. I finally figured out how to look for the notice of the annual meeting in March and the ditch cleaning in April. There are notices in the paper for both. Unfortunately the notice for the ditch cleaning doesn’s say when it starts and says to “meet at the usual place.” After attending the annual ditch meeting and the ditch cleaning, I thought I was ready to go. I hired someone to help me clean out the old ditches that brought the water from the Acequia Madre (mother ditch) to my land.
On a Monday afternoon, I spoke to a neighbor and she told me that she thought the next ditch meeting was happening that very night. Apparently it was held along side the road near the mailboxes. Must be the “usual place.” I tried to figure out what might be appropriate to wear to a road-side ditch meeting. I had nothing really appropriate – but settled on some jeans and a plaid shirt.
When I arrived, there were nine men waiting and they were not very happy to see me. Read more…