As a senior at Colorado School of Mines, Amanda Field has experienced first-hand some of the challenges faced by women who want to work in the male-dominated field of engineering. “A lot of times …
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All A&C Design Company merchandise at acdesigncompany.com. The company will also post pictures of new designs and merchandise on its Instagram page: www.instagram.com/acdesignscompany/
As a senior at Colorado School of Mines, Amanda Field has experienced first-hand some of the challenges faced by women who want to work in the male-dominated field of engineering.
“A lot of times in school it appeared as being asked to be the writer or the note taker in my group projects and not really being given any responsibility in terms of the engineering and the math and the actual science of it all,” she said.
For Claire Knight, one of Field’s female friends at Mines, such biases often become evident when she goes to professors’ office hours and asks a question to find that she is given an explanation that is unnecessarily detailed compared to what would be given to a male peer.
“Definitely I have felt that people don’t expect that I would have the same credibility as anybody else with my same degree,” Knight said. “So we’re definitely trying to challenge that.”
It’s that desire that has led the pair to start A&C Designs Company, a business specializing in producing clothing that is intended to promote pride among women who want to go into engineering and other fields that are often unwelcoming to them.
Field said she had been thinking about how fun it would be to create such a clothing idea for some time. She first brought the idea to Knight, who she describes as being “super creative and having a craft side to her brain,” last November.
Knight, in turn, was 100% in and quickly whipped up a T-shirt printed with a design she created based on the concept Field described.
“We definitely saw a hole in the market of clothing and apparel for woman that want to showcase their brain and that they are proud to be where they are,” Knight said. “Usually clothing in that area is not very stylish.”
The A&C Design Company website, launched on March 1, includes a lineup of T-shirts, sweatshirts, beanies and stickers. The most popular designs are emblazoned with the word “engineer” with a female gender symbol replacing the “i.”
A second design includes the phrase “engineering the future” with the gender symbol. There is also a shirt that says “My girlfriend is an engineer.”
While the company is still in its infancy, Field says the pair is already working on a new design to promote woman scientists and hopes to eventually expand the company’s offerings to include other fields.
“We got a lot of requests to branch out to areas other than engineering which is totally fair,” she said.
However, those future plans for A&C Design Company will have to be balanced with the careers Field and Knight are set to start after they graduate in May.
Field is joining the Technical Leader Program at aerospace and defense technology company Northrop Grumman while Knight is going to work as a mechanical engineer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
But while the pair says managing the business following graduation will be a new challenge, they say it is one they feel they are ready for now that they’ve confronted all of the obstacles that came with just getting the company off the ground.
“With starting any small business there is a lot to go through — a lot of paperwork and a logistics — and I definitely think we’ll have more to consider in the future,” said Knight. “But for us it’s just really fun and passion project and I think for both of us it will be worth it to make it continue on.”
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