Tina Carroll

As Interviewed by Kalyani A., February 24, 2013

Tina Carroll: In Her Own Words

I went to college from 1983 to 1988, and I started out majoring in Electrical Engineering. I went to Texas A&M and I was, for various reasons, trying to fast-track my coursework so that I that I could graduate within 4 years; even though I took 3 semesters off to co-op, which is a work study program.

So I found myself taking my junior level Double E classes during my sophomore year in college. And because I was kind of skipping ahead, I really didnít know too many of the other students in my class. I was shy at that time, and there were all guys in my classes. I was the only woman in all of my engineering classes.

I had always made straight Aís in school, and then suddenly in this one Double E class that I was taking, it was my circuit design class, there were three tests; two tests and a final. And each test had three problems; and these were complex problems that required two to three pages of calculations each. And if you missed a minus sign somewhere along the way, the professor would count the whole thing wrong. So you could either make 100, a 66, a 33, or a zero. On the first exam I ended up making a 66, and on the second exam I made a 33.

And it wasnít until late in the semester that I realized, after some of the other guys asked me to join their study group, (I was kind of nervous about that) but I finally agreed because I thought, ďWow, I really need some help here.Ē But I was really embarrassed, too. I did not want anyone to know I was flunking the course.

But I got over my ego issues and decided to join the study group, and the first thing I find out is that when they looked at my test, they said: ďYou are doing so much better than the rest of us. You really actually understand this stuff. Your problem is you are supposed to go argue for points. You go to the professorís office and argue for points.Ē

I said: ďOh really? Nobody ever told me that.Ē

So, I went to the office and stood in a long line and waited for my turn, and when it was my turn, I walked in the door, and the professor said, ďWho? What are you doing in my office?Ē

And I said, ďIím in your double E 325 class at 8:00 on Tuesday, and Iím here to argue points, I didnít realize that I was supposed to do that otherwise I would have come sooner.Ē

And, heís like, ďNO! What are you doing in my office?!Ē

And again, I say, ďUh, Iím in your double E 325 class at 8:00 on Tuesdays, and Iím here to argue my points!Ē

I was shaking in my boots, I have to tell you, because he was a really old, mean professor.

After I said it the second time, he cut me off and he said; ďNo, you are a woman! You donít belong in Engineering, You belong barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen! Now, get the hell out of my office!Ē

My jaw hit the floor. I couldnít believe what I was hearing, and I was actually so scared and in shock that I just was going to run out of there. I was already going to run out of there before he even said that, but now I was really going to run out of there, and I didnít know what to say or do. I remember thinking that this canít be happening. At the same time, I was already so embarrassed about my grades Ė walking in there feeling like a failure, that I didnít deserve to be there, didnít give me the confidence that I needed to stand up to him.

Had he said that to somebody else, I would be there in a second to fight for them and stand up and argue for them. I canít defend myself for some reason, I donít know why, and I ran out of the room, and as I was running out of his office, he said, ďGo ahead and go tell somebody. They canít do anything to me because Iím retiring this semester. If itís the last thing I do, Iím going to kick you out of engineering!Ē

And he did.