Notes From A Queer Engineer: All-Occasion Presents For Women In STEM

Notes From A Queer Engineer_Rory Midhani_640

Header by Rory Midhani
Feature image via shutterstock

I’ve had a thought rattling around my brain recently. A rather mundane thought, as it turns out; one which feminist writers on the internet have been ruminating over for literal years. The thought goes something like this. Saskia Wishart, She Loves Magazine, October 2014:

It takes only nine months to make a baby; a PhD takes years. So where is the shower for women who complete their studies?

Brittany Berckes, Man Repeller, June 2015:

We should rearrange our schedules to fit in our friend’s promotion party because the promotion is just as crucial as a marriage is to creating her happy, fulfilling life.

Natalie Brooke, Huffington Post, February 2016:

It is 2016 and being popped the question is still more celebrated than academic and professional pursuits of women. … Perhaps it’s time for society as a whole to re-evaluate what aspect of women’s lives we put the most value on.

I’m of two minds on this.

On the one hand, I wholeheartedly wish to celebrate weddings and baby showers. Queer people have been expressly excluded from traditional milestones like these in the past, and it still feels like a big deal to me to participate now. There are things about these institutions I take issue with, but when I read about Ali jointly picking an engagement ring with her now wife? Or look at photos of KaeLyn holding her perfect tiny newborn? Hell yes I’m cheering!

On the other hand, I totally relate to the place where the above writers are coming from. After all, I’m not married or a parent, but my stuff is important, too! Women engineers play a key role in breaking down gender stereotypes and busting glass ceilings. Damn straight we should be celebrating my professional accomplishments. While we’re at it: why confine ourselves to the big milestones? Being a woman in STEM is hard work every single day, and I’m ready for our collective efforts to be recognized. Down with the patriarchy! Presents for all occasions!

Here are some gift suggestions for the women in STEM in your life. Just because.

Great Job Telling Your Boss Not To Refer To Women Engineers As “Girls”


Resistor Code Necktie // Shit Just Got Real Mug // Light Bulb Ring // Physicist Well Done Card // HTML <strong> Necklace // Boiling Point Painting On Reclaimed Wood

Congratulations, You Changed The Name On Your Resume To Match Your Gender Identity


Dinosaur Trans Buttons // Estrogen Molecule Necklace // Transformer Symbol Sterling Silver Earrings // Binaries Are For Computers

Sorry Your New Coworker Assumed You Were In Marketing


“With Deepest Sympathy” card // Marimo Balls Air Plant Terrarium in Erlenmeyer Flasks // Voronoi & Delaunay Mathematics Diagram Journal // Vintage Double-Sided Bookplate Entomology Print // Science Doesn’t Care What You Think T-shirt // Ada Lovelace: Heroes of Science Pint Glass

Go You: Took Advantage Of Paid Parental Leave


Scientific Alphabet Prints // Test Tube Printed Bag // Blue Mitosis Silk Scarf // Motherboard Necklace // Flensted Science Fiction Mobile // Science Is For Girls Baby Bib // Periodic Table Themed Baby Shower Invitation

50% Of The Women In Your Field Have Dropped Out By Now, But You’re Still Here!


Stalactite Ring // “She’s Got Science” Sticker // Diatoms Bow Tie // CTRL + ESC Keyboard Keys T-shirt // Trophy Collection // Science Party Cake // Pavlov’s Cat (“Yeah right. I’m not moving ’til I hear the can opener.”) T-Shirt // Deinonychus Velociraptor 3D Printed Skull Earrings // Still Here Print // Wine Chemistry Stemless Glass

Notes From A Queer Engineer is a recurring column with an expected periodicity of 14 days. The subject matter may not be explicitly queer, but the industrial engineer writing it sure is. This is a peek at the notes she’s been doodling in the margins.

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Laura Mandanas

Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Boston. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair. Follow her: @LauraMWrites.

Laura has written 210 articles for us.


  1. I love the little air plants! But I am in marketing, so I guess I don’t get one for my coworker assuming that’s my department. Will somebody get me a plant in a bottle if I switch careers?

  2. Anyone who gets me a plant in Erlenmeyer Flasks will be placed on the top of my list of ‘cool people I would totally date’

  3. …Now I really want to have a belated “Congratulations, You Changed The Name On Your Resume To Match Your Gender Identity” shower. And I think I need that estrogen necklace in my life.

  4. My family finally gave up on the hope that I was going to have kids, so my mother resolved that my dissertation was her grandchild. She threw me a pretty gigantic PhD party. It was amazing, I am so thankful for a family who “got” how monumental that achievement was.

    FYI when you study chipmunks you get an incredible amount of chipmunk themed gifts for said PhD party. Including this (AMAZING) pillow:

  5. Thank you for this, Laura! As a civil engineer I always love your columns! Sharing this with my friend who is working on her PhD…

  6. This is so good Laura; sending to my fellow STEM grad-student-at-arms. p.s. I am totally wearing a diatom tie to my defense next month.

  7. This is great! Among my math friends, asking if someone “popped the question” is asking if they’ve “proposed” to their potential adviser yet. Unfortunately, we haven’t started throwing each other parties yet.

  8. Oh Laura I’ve never been even slightly tempted to have my ears pierced, until now.
    DEINONYCHUS SKULL EARRINGS! The only things better would be velociraptor mongoliensis skull earrings with dere cute little princess snouts. I would find a way to attach ridiculous rainbow feathers or crystals for either of them; even though I am allergic to feathers and avoid generally avoid them in fashion anyway because…reasons. >_>

  9. One of the dinosaur buttons says down with cis. Why would you sell this? Would you sell one that said down with trans? No you wouldn’t, and rightly so. I can’t understand why anyone would want to make something so negative and hateful. Transphobia must be fought at every turn, but this isn’t the way.

    • Hello and welcome to another episode of Reverse Discrimination Isn’t Real

      (And stay tuned for next week, we’ll meet my white male best friend who is offended by the title of the show Blackish)

  10. Oh hey! If you want more sciencey jewelry (molecules! mitochondria! brains! also pronouns and such!) made by a queer trans human, you should check out

Comments are closed.